Asem summit kicks off virtually with focus on multilateralism, pandemic recovery

Hun Sen (upper left) and Ursula von der Leyen (upper right) are seen on the screen during an online opening session of the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Nov 25. - Ministry of Information Cambodia

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua): The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) Summit started on Thursday (Nov 25) under the chairmanship of Cambodia, with main focus on multilateralism and post-Covid-19 recovery.

The meeting, under the slogan "Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth," was held via video conference due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said it is more important than ever for the Asem partners to strengthen multilateralism for a sustainable and shared global growth.

"In fact, in the post-Covid-19 crisis world, we need to further reinforce our Asia-Europe partnership to maintain a strong multilateralism that will bring about a global growth that is not only sustainable, but can also be shared," he said.

The Cambodian leader said the meeting has set its objectives based on the principles of shared growth, sustainable development and rules-based multilateralism.

"As an important multilateral platform linking Asia and Europe, Asem is an essential and strong global force," he said.

"In this spirit, Asem's cooperation and partnership for a solid and effective multilateralism and a rules-based international order should act as its guiding spirit."

Asem, founded in 1996, is an informal platform for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe.

Hun Sen said as Asem is moving towards its next decade of its existence, all Asem partners have a shared responsibility to ensure that Asem continues to be an essential and robust inter-regional platform that can bring about great benefits for its people and can make an even greater contribution to peace, stability, prosperity and development of the world.

He said the summit's main goals are to deepen inter-regional connectivity for sustainable and inclusive development and shared growth, to promote inter-regional partnership for global governance, to enhance the effectiveness of a rules-based multilateral system, and to harness innovation, digital connectivity, and the fourth Industrial Revolution, among others.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said Europe believes in multilateralism and an open and rules-based international order, saying that the European countries are ready to deepen cooperation with the Asian counterparts for mutual benefit.

"Multilateral cooperation and a very strong Europe-Asia relationship in particular are crucial for our global recovery," he said.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the two-day summit is an opportunity to strengthen cooperation on issues that matter for the prosperity and security of both regions and beyond, and that the Asem partners need to work closer to recover from the pandemic.

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