The Third Asia Europe parliamentary partnership meeting, ASEP 3, will be held at Hué, Vietnam, from 25-26 March 2004, hosted by the National Assembly of Vietnam.
The ASEP is the overseeing parliamentary body whose meetings parallel the biannual inter-governmental Asia Europe meetings, ASEM, and represents an initiative designed to bring together parliamentarians from Europe and Asia. Although part of the ASEM framework, it meets on anad hoc basis, and has not so far been established permanently.
I understand that the three main topics for the meeting will be: (1) ASEM partnership for a fairer and more equal global trade; (2) cultural identity and diversity in the context of ASEM; and (3) the current international security situation and challenges to international law.
The Vietnamese organisers intend to invite MEPs, members of the ASEM legislatures, as well as those of the accession countries, and participants from related regional organisations. I welcome this widening of ASEP participants. Such a wider participation would contribute to the aims of ASEM to widen discussion of Europe and Asia to a broad spectrum of civil society.
I hope that ASEP can develop into an important forum for interparliamentary discussion and debate on issues that affect all ASEM countries and assist in the promotion of better mutual understanding of our shared interest in peace and co-operation for development.