Sultan in Beijing for ASEM
By James Kon in Beijing

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam safely arrived in Beijing, China's capital, last night to attend the 7th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, which will be held on October 24 and 25 at the Great Hall of the People.

This year, Brunei together with China, European Union and France are the coordinator countries. Held once every two years, the summit is intended to foster closer relations and cooperation between the two regions. The 6th ASEM was held in 2006 in Helsinki, Finland.

Under theme 'Vision and Action: Towards a Win-Win Solution', His Majesty with other leaders from Asia and Europe will be exchanging views on regional and international concerns including food security, the current financial situation, sustainable development and dialogue among cultures and civilisations.

The summit will also provide a good opportunity for expanding and deepening dialogue on an equal footing and mutually beneficial cooperation between Asia and Europe to ensure a win-win progress for the benefit of peoples of ASEM partners.

The summit consists of four sessions. During the first closed session, leaders will have the opportunity to discuss the current international financial situation as well as exchange views on ways and means to promote economic cooperation between both regions under the theme of "World Economy and Financial Situation".

The second closed session will focus on the theme of Global Issues. Among matters to be discussed during the session include food security, disaster preparedness and migration.

The third session will bring together heads of state and government to discuss the theme of "Driving Sustainable Development". Among the issues that will be discussed are energy security, climate changes and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Discussions during the fourth session will focus on efforts to enhance understanding and dialogue amongst various cultures and civilisations of the two regions.

The heads of state and government are expected to adopt several documents during the summit. The documents include the chairman's statement, Beijing declaration on sustainable development and statement of the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting on the international financial situation.

Prior to the summit, His Majesty will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao for a bilateral meeting today afternoon.

His Majesty will then proceed to attend a working banquet with leaders of other Asean countries in the evening.

On the morning of the first day of ASEM, His Majesty will also be attending the summit of Asean plus 3 (China, Japan and Republic of Korea) followed by a welcoming reception for heads of ASEM delegates with Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

During the opening ceremony, His Majesty is expected to deliver a titah as one of the coordinating countries for 7th ASEM. Other leaders who will also be delivering their remarks include Wen Jiabo, Hu Jintao, President Tarja Halonen of Finland, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of European Commission.

Present at the Brunei International Airport earlier to bid farewell to His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muthadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik.

Prior to departure, a doa selamat was read by State Mufti, Pehin Dato Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz.

Also present at the airport were Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Pengiran Cheteria, Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and other senior government officials.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso have said they would use the gathering to urge China and India to help shore up world growth and join a proposed summit on the financial crisis.

The meeting is also likely to produce a broad statement on climate change, with Europe seeking to coax China, India and other developing countries into firmer commitments on limiting greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming.

There will also be bilateral and regional get-togethers on the sidelines of the formal meeting that may issue sharper statements on the global economic woes and regional issues.

The Asean grouping of Southeast Asian states is set to meet along with Japan, China and South Korea to consider how to beef up a regional mechanism for emergency financial support. - Borneo Bulletin (23rd Oct 2008)