Under the theme of “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity,” the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM 9) opened last Monday with an ASEM Enlargement Ceremony, officially accepting Bangladesh, Norway, and Switzerland as full partners, bringing the total number of ASEM partners to 51. H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, attended as the Head of Delegation of the ASEAN Secretariat.

Held on 5-6 November 2012, 51 Heads of State and/or Government and Representatives from Asia and Europe gathered in Vientiane, the Lao PDR, to attend the ASEM 9. During the plenary sessions, the Leaders exchanged views on a number of common concerns, including: economic and financial issues, global issues, regional issues, and social and cultural cooperation. They explored ways to deepen and broaden cooperation within the ASEM framework in the future. The Leaders adopted the Vientiane Declaration on Strengthening Partnership for Peace and Development and the Chair’s Statement of the ASEM 9 as the outcome documents of the Summit.

The Asia-Europe Meeting is an informal process of dialogue with the objective of strengthening the relationship between the two regions in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership. ASEM partners are the 10 ASEAN Member States, 27 EU Member States, as well as Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Switzerland, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the European Commission.

The ASEM 9 is the biggest international conference that the Lao PDR has ever hosted.