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 â€œpolitics and securityâ€ 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.
â€œWhat is important is that the ministers have recognised the importance of politics and security which, previously, had not even been mentioned in the forum,â€ George Reyes said.
Security concerns, including drug-trafficking, international terrorism, transnational crimes, arms trafficking, insurgency and even â€œinfectious diseasesâ€, were identified, Reyes said.
Opening the two-day meeting, co-chairwoman Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco said Americas had identified â€œa series of new threats to securityâ€. 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.