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Asia Cooperation Dialogue meeting kicks off with promises of action

Publication Date : 15-10-2012


As Europe and the US bleed from the global financial crisis, it is time for Asia to consolidate itself and enhance concrete cooperation among Asian countries for the benefit of Asian people. An era of dialogue and mutual consultation is over and it is time for action, Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah says.

"A whole decade passed on our annual consultations and dialogues, during which, our genuine desire to cooperate and develop our joint action was embodied in order to promote our dialogue into a mechanism beneficiary for our people's prosperity and welfare," Al-Sabah said while opening Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Ministerial Meeting at Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait City yesterday.

Kuwait is hosting the historic tenth Asian Cooperation Dialogue Summit from Tuesday to Wednesday. The ACD, an informal forum of the foreign ministers of Asian countries, was established by the then Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Cha Am, the birthplace of the most successful regional organisation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Its main objective is to foster mutual cooperation in key areas like agriculture, food, energy, industrialisation, health, education, natural disasters and poverty eradication among Asian countries.

After 10 years of ACD existence and numerous dialogues, Kuwait, a tiny but rich state, would like to transform this informal forum into a larger and powerful institution. The ACD has 32 members from all corners of Asia as well as Russia.

"We would like to have ACD headquarters in Kuwait City," Kuwait foreign ministry's under secretary Kaled Al Jaraullah told the local media on Saturday after chairing the senior officials' meeting.

Indonesia, a founding member of the ACD is not represented by any minister at the meeting. Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa was planning to attend but cancelled the trip at the last minute.

"Pak Marty probably will not go to the ACD," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Michael Tene informed The Jakarta Post through an SMS message on Friday.

According to the Indonesian Embassy in Kuwait, Indonesia is being represented by National Energy Council chairman Saleh Abdurrahman at the ministerial meeting.

It was confirmed that neither President Susilo Bamabang Yudhoyono nor Vice President Boediono would attend the ACD summit, which will be attended by Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Iranian President Ahmedinejad, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman and others. But there will be a senior minister will be attending the summit.

"Indonesia will be represented by Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa at the ACD Summit," Indonesian Embassy first secretary Aris Triyono told journalists in Kuwait on the sidelines of the ACD foreign ministers' meeting.

Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Rudy Rubiandini will accompany Hatta because Indonesia is handling energy matters at the ACD.

Several countries and scholars are looking at Kuwait's initiative to transform ACD from a talking shop to a powerful regional organisation.

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, in his capacity as ACD Coordinator, emphasised the need for promoting economic development and cooperation in Asia.

"To attain regional prosperity, we must increase cooperation in areas where our diverse strengths and assets are complementary," Surapong said in his speech at the meeting.

Kuwait is in a better position, thanks to its enormous oil wealth, to transform the ACD into a permanent entity to yield real benefits.

"Kuwait is ardent on supporting development efforts in Asia by financing different projects through the Kuwait Fund," Al- Sabah said.

So far, Kuwait has allocated US$5.5 billion for projects and grants to Asian countries.


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