Distinguished members of the press,

We have just concluded the Bangkok Ministerial Meeting on Combating the Spread of Avian Influenza and I am pleased to inform you that our two hours and a half of deliberations have been substantive, constructive and most fruitful.

The fact that this meeting was convened in three working days underscores that we all recognize the need to coordinate our efforts to put up an effective response to the spread of avian influenza.

We met to address the current poultry disease situation, specifically the outbreak of avian influenza in the poultry population, and its impact on human health. We shared information about the situation in the affected economies and the measures that each of us has so far taken to address the situation.

We recognized that our individual efforts must be reinforced by effective regional and international cooperation in view of the magnitude of the challenge, our ultimate objective being the restoration of confidence among all the parties concerned.

Our meeting has produced a Joint Ministerial Statement, which has been made available. We have also identified areas of cooperation to help us contain avian flu.

We noted that the outbreak of the disease is a serious threat not only to the poultry industry but also to human health. Containment will require closer cooperation among governments, communities and businesses, through regional and international organizations and other mechanisms.

Areas of cooperation will include joint R&D initiatives to reduce the hazards of animal disease outbreaks on human health, share best practices, devise counter-measures, and develop effective, low-cost diagnostic test kits, vaccination and anti-viral drugs;

As there is yet no evidence of human-to-human transmission, we agreed that the disease does not pose a threat to the travel and tourism industries, and travel restrictions are unnecessary.

We commended the progress made by affected countries in controlling the spread of the animal disease, and pledged to do more. This includes improving surveillance and response systems, research and development capabilities, and sharing of information and technology. We agreed to intensify national, regional and international efforts to tackle the present outbreak and prevent future ones through greater transparency and promptness of action.

We agreed to implement domestic measures to control avian influenza as recommended by the OIE, WHO and FAO and work closely with them.

We agreed to create a regional veterinary surveillance network and link it with existing human health surveillance mechanisms to promote rapid, transparent and accurate exchange of information and provide early warning.

We encouraged the provision of technical assistance to help affected countries build their epidemiological and laboratory capacity for prompt detection and monitoring. We noted the importance of effective outreach and communication strategies to promote transparency and better public understanding of the extent and nature of the disease.

[The meeting was attended by Agriculture and Public Health Ministers and senior officials of Cambodia, China, the European Commission, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, and Viet Nam, as well as senior representatives from the World Organization on Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).]