VIENTIANE, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Seventh Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP-7) kicked off in Lao capital Vientiane on Wednesday.
The meeting, themed "Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership for Sustainable Development", is to last for two days till Thursday.
ASEP-7 is to admit new membership, possibly, of Australia, Myanmar, New Zealand and Russia on Wednesday, and to hold two panel discussions on Thursday.
For the economic matters panel, lead speakers from China, Finland, South Korea and IMF are to present reports on ensuring food security in the current situation of global climate change and on strengthening the Asia-Europe cooperation in the field of public debts for sustainable development.
For the social and environmental matters panel, lead speakers from Belgium, Indonesia and UNISDR (United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) are to present reports on Asia- Europe partnership in increasing social participation for disaster management.
"Since its inception in 1996, the ASEP process has contributed parliamentary dimension to the strengthening of friendly relations and intensive cooperation between Parliaments of Asia and Europe in political, social and economic fields in a view to taping up mutual understanding and common interest," said Mrs. Pany Yathotou, President of the National Assembly of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in a welcome message delivered ahead the inauguration of ASEP-7.
"The seventh ASEP meeting will coincide with intensive preparations toward the ninth Asia-Europe Summit Meeting (ASEM) to be held on November 5-6, 2012 in Vientiane. I strongly believe that the outcome of the ASEP meeting will duly enrich the deliberation of ASEM with representative view of peoples of our two continents," said Pany Yathotou.
"The Lao PDR highly values the achievement gained by ASEP during the past 16 years. The achievements reflect the determination and commitment of peoples of Asia and Europe to enhance their cooperation and to explore ways and means to alleviate the impact of current challenges faced by the two regions as well as future challenges that may occur," she said.
The ASEP-7 sees representatives from 43 members, among which 15 nations in Asia, 27 countries in Europe and the European Parliament, from seven observers namely Australia, Bangladesh, Norway, Myanmar, New Zealand, Russia, and Switzerland, and from six international organization, namely AIPA (ASEAN Inter Parliamentary Assembly), IPU (Inter-Parliament Union), ASEAN, UNDP, IMF, UNISDR.
ASEP is part of partnership process between Asia and Europe and serves as a forum for inter-parliamentary contacts, exchanges and diplomacy among parliaments, and to promote mutual understanding among the people and countries of Asia and Europe, provides a link between parliaments of Asia and Europe and ASEM.
The first ASEP meeting was held in Strasbourg, France, in 1996; the second in Manila, capital of the Philippines in 2002; the third in Hue in central Vietnam in 2004; the fourth in Helsinki, capital of Finland in 2006; the fifth in Beijing, capital of China in 2008; and the sixth in Brussels, Belgium in 2010. ASEP meetings are normally convened on a regular bi-annual basis alternately in Asia and in Europe before the ASEM Summit.