Sultan in bilateral meeting, joins ASEM plenary session
Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday attended the Opening Ceremony of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Vientiane, Lao PDR (Laos).

His Majesty was greeted on arrival at the main lobby of the National Convention Centre by the President of Laos Choummaly Sayasone and spouse and Prime Minister of Laos Thongsing Thammavong and spouse. After a handshake, His Majesty joined other ASEM leaders at the Holding Room.

His Majesty and other ASEM leaders then proceeded for a photo session at the main lobby before making their way to the Opening Ceremony of the summit at the Champa Grand Hall.

The Opening Ceremony was presided by the ASEM Enlargement Ceremony. The ceremony began with welcoming remarks by the Prime Minister of Laos Thongsing Thammavong, Chairman of the 9th ASEM and ASEM Coordinator for Asean. He welcomed three new members of ASEM namely Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland. With the new members, national flags of the three countries were hoisted on the stage to mark the number of ASEM members from 48 to 51.

Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the President of Switzerland were then ushered to the stage as each of them delivered their remarks.

The Opening Ceremony also saw the opening address by the President of Laos Choummaly Sayasone and subsequently statements by President of the European Council; the Prime Minister of Pakistan; and the President of the European Commission.

After the Opening Ceremony, the meeting began in Plenary Session I where ASEM leaders discussed economic and financial issues that have been a challenge to the global economy.

The session shared experiences from the financial crisis, economic and financial restructuring and recovery, green economy, reform of international financial institutions, and trade and investment facilitation and liberalisation.

Shortly after the Plenary Session I was over, His Majesty left the National Convention Centre for Don Chan Palace.

Accompanying His Majesty at the meeting were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office and Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II.

Earlier in the morning, His Majesty held a bilateral meeting with the President of Laos Choummaly Sayasone at the Presidential Palace.

Upon arrival, His Majesty was greeted by the Laos President.

His Majesty and the Laos President walked side by side, passed the static guard and made their way to the meeting room.

Accompanying His Majesty were Pehin Dato Awang Haji Abdul Rahman and Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng. - Borneo Bulletin (6 November 2012)