France says Asia a major strategic stake for Europe 2008-06-01 19:44:31   Print

    SINGAPORE, June 1 (Xinhua) -- France's defense minister Sunday told an Asian security conference that the center of gravity of the world will move towards Asia within 25 years, and the region is a major strategic stake for Europe.

    "A global stake requires a global answer. In terms of security, France and Europe are not intending to remain secondary partners in Asia, but indeed full players," French Defense Minister Herve Morin said.

    Addressing defense ministers, military officials and experts from 27 countries who were attending the annual Asian Security Summit here, Morin noted, "during the 25 years to come, the center of gravity of the world will move more and more towards Asia."

    Through their economic, financial, demographic and intellectual dynamism, "Asia, and Southeast Asia in particular, is a major strategic stake for Europe," he added.

    He said France's commitment in Asia now finds an illustration in Afghanistan, where France is "making a long and difficult counter terrorism and state reconstruction effort."

    France will host an international donors conference to support Afghanistan on June 12 in the presence of President Hamid Karzai.

    He pointed out that France's interest for Afghanistan is related with its being determined to counter terrorism and fundamentalism.

    "Today, struggling against al-Qaeda and its ramifications is still a priority for each nation present in this room. Let me tell you solemnly today: in this struggle, France will stand by you," he said.

    Countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is also France's priority, he added.

    "Therefore, France is paying attention to the negotiation process initiated with North Korea and will continue supporting the six-party talks," said the defense minister.

    He also said Southeast Asia in particular would hold a "very special stake" for Europe in future.

    He also called for more concrete cooperation between the two region against maritime piracy and offered France's help with averting any problems as Southeast Asia's submarine forces patrol in shallow waters and narrow routes.

    "We are no longer in an environment that was long ago described as 'benign neglect' by Europe about Asia, by a Singapore prime minister. Symmetrically, Asia should not consider Europe as a second ranking partner," he said.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also expressed America's remaining interests in Asia on Saturday at the same forum, saying "the United States remains a nation with strong and enduring interests in this region -- interests that will endure no matter which political party occupies the White House next year."

    The three-day conference, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue and organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, concluded Sunday.

Editor: Sun Yunlong
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