Denmark, Sweden at ASEM meeting

The ASEM meeting of foreign ministers from Asia and Europe opened Thursday 24 Juli, 2003 in Bali. From Sweden, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Hans Dahlgren and from Denmark, Undersecretary of State, Peter Lysholt Hansen participated in the meeting.
      Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Thursday formally opened the meeting of Asian and European foreign ministers, urging the two sides to respect differences and not impose their will on each other. The two sides are divided on how to handle the Myanmar issue. The Europeans have imposed political and economic sanctions to pressure military-ruled Myanmar to release democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi while the Asians prefer the problem to be resolved through diplomacy.
      The Asians have rejected a European proposal to have a special agenda on Myanmar at the ministerial meeting although the Nobel peace prizewinner’s detention is a key topic along the conference corridors.
      Megawati did not refer to Myanmar in her opening remarks but warned that much time and resources would be lost unless the two continents are realistic in accepting and respecting their differences.
      She said that based on experience “it is essential to build mutual understanding, refrain from the imposition of will, and respect each other when we are determined to engage in cooperation, especially between different groupings.
      “This is particularly true when cooperation involved countries which are different in culture, level of socio-economy, and in many other aspects of their lives,” she said.
      Megawati said Indonesia’s experience, where “differences and diversity have no comparison in many places, not even Europe,” had enabled the people to build tolerance and to respect differences.

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