Vientiane (Laos), Nov 6 (IANS) India Tuesday said the future destinies of Europe and Asia are connected and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) grouping needs to orient itself 'definitely' towards giving a push to such cooperation.
Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, addressing the 9th ASEM Summit Plenary Session here on 'Future Direction of ASEM', said: 'We also believe that ASEM is today at a significant crossroads. We need to come together to address these issues.'
He said the grouping, which comprises 49 countries and three institutions, 'needs to orient itself definitively in a direction that facilitates, accelerates and makes possible such cooperation'.
Khurshid said the deliberations over the past two days on crucial issues, including the changing politico-security and global economic environment, slower economic growth, the scourge of global terrorism and narcotics drug trafficking, helped to emphasise the point that 'the future destinies of Europe and Asia are connected'.
He said the USP of the bloc 'is that it is a dialogue forum with capacity to discuss all issues of concern'.
Khurshid said a push needed to be given to make ASEM 'the inter-Continental bridge that it was meant to be, bringing together the strengths and capacities across our countries to contribute to global growth and development, peace and stability'.
'We need to strengthen ASEM in this direction in each of its three pillars of cooperation i.e. political and security cooperation, economic cooperation and socio-cultural cooperation.'
Khurshid said ASEM is perceived as having a capacity 'to bring about greater focus on areas of relevance for developing countries and emerging markets. It can also make the global framework for economic governance more effective, given its varied participation consisting of emerging market economies, developed and developing countries.
'It is here that ASEM as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe remains fundamentally relevant and can add substantive value,' he stressed.
Khurshid said he was confident that the ASEM members would participate in an initiative proposed by China, Laos, Poland and India to hold a Conference on the Future of ASEM next year.
'India stands ready to work with ASEM partners on this important agenda.'
He invited the foreign ministers of ASEM to the next meeting of ASEM foreign ministers to be held in India.