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Tuesday December 5, 2006

Much confusion over East Asian community building


KUALA LUMPUR: Greater restraint and moderation among member countries augurs well for community building in East Asia, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. 

He said it was most unfortunate that there was still a great deal of misunderstanding about East Asia's community building. 

“The question of who should be included and who should be excluded continue to be asked. We cannot seek to be continually moving the boundaries of consensus and agreement,” he said in his keynote address at the 4th East Asia Congress here. 

“Community building and regional cooperation cannot proceed smoothly in such an environment.” 

The three-day congress, themed East Asian Community Building: Strategic Issues, Critical Imperatives, was organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Isis) Malaysia. 

Abdullah said it had been quite a clear understanding that the Asean+3 (China, Japan and South Korea) process would be the driving force in regional efforts for East Asia community building. 

It had been equally made clear that the East Asia Summit process was a forum for strategic dialogue and would play a supporting role in community building, he said. 

“I have to emphasise these points because there is until today, endless and unproductive debate about which process should be elevated or who should be included in what,” Abdullah said in his keynote speech. 

“We run the risk of increasing the competition for spheres of influence and factionalising the region. 

“This would be harmful to community building and the region would be deprived of peace and prosperity.”– Bernama  

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