The European Union continues to attach high value to our participation in the ARF, a unique forum for dialogue on security policy issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

The European Union is committed to working closely with its international partners to combat the common security threats which face us, most notably terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists use increasingly sophisticated techniques to operate with impunity across national borders. The spread of weapons of mass destruction has been slowed by the long established international treaty regimes and export control measures, but has continued. There is an urgent need to ensure such technology never falls into the hands of terrorists.

To combat these threats, EU Member States have agreed and are implementing wide-ranging and challenging plans of action. And in both areas, the EU has made clear our need and determination to co-operate closely with our international partners. Effective multilateral action is essential to our success in these areas. Working together, we will be far more effective. The EU will support the Chairman in Office in ensuring necessary action is taken, a task which we hope will be made easier by the welcome establishment of the ARF unit within the secretariat of ASEAN.

For the firt time, the EU will co-chair Inter-sessional Group on Confidence Building Measures (CBM) for the period 2004-2005, together with Cambodia. We are very much looking forward to this opportunity.