Agence France Presse

Manila, January 30

Thirty-two East Asian and Latin American countries agreed at a ministerial meeting today to make security issues ranging from terrorism to transnational crime top priority as they seek to enhance ties between the two regions. The setting procedure of a special working group on “politics and security” to be head by Chile and Singapore would be discussed on the second meeting of the Forum for East Asian-Latin American Co-operation (FEALAC), an unusual move for the young forum, which had previously focused largely on economic and cultural issues.

“What is important is that the ministers have recognised the importance of politics and security which, previously, had not even been mentioned in the forum,” George Reyes said.

Security concerns, including drug-trafficking, international terrorism, transnational crimes, arms trafficking, insurgency and even “infectious diseases”, were identified, Reyes said.

Opening the two-day meeting, co-chairwoman Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco said Americas had identified “a series of new threats to security”. Barco, who has pushed for the new focus on security, had cited the experience of Colombia against rebel groups funded by drug money. The ministers also took up a recommendation by senior officials that the forum should seek a resumption of the Doha round of trade talks and call for the elimination of agricultural subsidies in developed countries.

Boosting trade and investment between the two regions and seeking a greater role for the forum in international gatherings were also discussed.