Asian, European leaders urge joint action on financial crisis (Lead)

October 24th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Oct 24 (DPA) The largest-to-date gathering of Asian and European leaders opened Friday to discuss how to respond to the global financial crisis and combat climate change.”In the face of this global challenge, the international community should enhance policy coordination, strengthen cooperation and make a common response,” Chinese President Hu Jintao said in his opening speech to the at the seventh biannual Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem).

The financial crisis triggered by the US sub-prime mortgage collapse caused shockwaves in international financial markets and a serious impact on economic development, Hu told leaders of 27 European Union (EU) member states and 16 Asian nations.

“At this crucial moment, confidence is more important than anything else,” Hu said. “Only with strong confidence and concerted efforts can we weather the crisis,” he said.

EU President Jose Manuel Barroso urged the leaders to find “global solutions to the severe financial, economic, environmental, developmental and socio-cultural challenges” the world is facing.

“These are unprecedented times that require unprecedented measures,” Barroso said in his speech.

Despite the EU, US and other economies taking “decisive measures,” he said, “financial market strains are bound to persist for quite some time and there are serious concerns for growth prospects worldwide.”

“Just as Europe and Asia cannot avoid the effects of this crisis so must they be involved with their global partners in finding solutions to it,” Barroso said.

Serge Abou, the EU’s ambassador to China, told reporters earlier that talks on the financial crisis were expected to be “very intense.”

EU officials said separate “clusters” of discussions were planned on banking and financial systems, and that the EU nations hoped the meeting would promote trade talks between the two continents.

This year’s Asem summit includes several new members, notably India and Pakistan, meaning the delegates represent a combined 50-60 percent of the global population and economy.

France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, will present an Asem statement on climate change under the theme of “Vision and Action: Towards a win-win Solution.”

Host China has drafted another joint statement on the financial crisis, while the EU wants to mark the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration on human rights with a “summit commitment to implementing human rights,” said EU officials in Brussels.

The officials said the EU would push for “the maximum commitment we can get” from Asia on signing up to a post-Kyoto deal on climate change at talks in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The Asian nations attending the summit are the 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, China, Japan, South Korea and India, Pakistan and Mongolia.

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