Vientiane (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit will not only enhance the role and reputation of Laos in the international arena but will also boost trade, investment and tourism in Laos, a senior government official said on Friday.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Economic Affairs Department Director General, Mr Thongphane Savanphet, made the comment when addressing over 40 journalists on the second day of a seminar organised by the Lao Press in Foreign Languages.
Mr Thongphane Savanphet ( right ) speaks at a seminar on Friday, attended by Deputy Director General of Lao Press in Foreign Languages Mr Thonglor Duangsavanh and journalists from 14 media outlets.
He said that apart from heads of state and government from the two continents, hundreds of business leaders and journalists will be present during the event in Vientiane, which would turn a global spotlight on Laos.
During the summit, to be held on November 5-6, three new ASEM members will be endorsed - Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland. This will bring the total number to 51.
The enlargement of ASEM is expected to create a closer partnership between the two continents, particularly in political, economic and socio-cultural cooperation.
About 4,000 people are expected to attend the summit, including journalists. The meeting is expected to adopt the Chair's Statement and Vientiane Declaration on strengthening partnership for peace and development.
Over the past decade, the political, economic and cultural ties between the two continents have grown in leaps and bounds.
The ASEM has played a key role in facilitating this development, offering an open dialogue platform for partners to exchange views on a wide range of issues of common interest, and has provided an important impetus to the development of relations at the bilateral level, as well as in other inter-regional and multilateral forums.
The origins of the ASEM process lay in a recognition by both Asia and Europe that the relationship between the two regions needed to be strengthened to reflect the new global context of the 1990s, marked by the end of the Cold War.
In July 1994, the European Commission published ¿Towards a New Asia Strategy¿, stressing the importance of modernising the relationship with Asia, and of properly reflecting Asia's growing political, economic and cultural significance.
In November 1994, Singapore and France proposed that an Asia-Europe summit meeting be held, to consider how to build a new partnership between the two continents.
The first ASEM Summit was held in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 1996 comprising 26 member states (15 from the European Union).
The first enlargement of ASEM members took place at the fifth ASEM Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2004, bringing the number to 39. The new members included Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation among partners on all issues of common interest to Asia and Europe.
November's summit will be the largest event ever to be held in Laos and the government attaches great importance to hosting the meeting.
In preparation, the government is building and upgrading facilities, including major improvements to Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, and construction of a convention centre.
Friday's seminar drew more than 20 questions. Journalists from 14 media outlets were in attendance, including Lao National Television, Lao National Radio, Lao News Agency and Vientiane Mai newspaper.
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