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Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, left, Ireland’s Minister of Training and Skills Ciaran Cannon, centre, and Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after a group photo session at the 9th Asia-Europe (ASEM) Summit in the Laos capital of Vientiane yesterda

Bangladesh yesterday formally joined the 52-nation Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) devoted to building co-operation between Asia and Europe, the foreign ministry announced in Dhaka.
The induction of Bangladesh happened with two other countries — Norway and Switzerland in a ceremony prior to launching of the ninth summit of ASEM in Vientaine, the capital Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her profound delight to be a new member of ASEM and thanked all members of the forum for their co-operation and support in making this possible for Bangladesh. “You have welcomed us in your midst as a partner and we promise to contribute fully to the ASEM process,” she said, adding, “Bangladesh recognises the vitality inherent in the ASEM process”.
Founded 17 years ago, the forum aims at providing a platform for policymakers and officials of the two neighbouring continents for co-operation beyond aid-based relationship rather in more general process of dialogue based on mutual respect and benefit.
The summit, being held under the theme — “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity” — this year, became a large gathering of Asian and European leaders with the presence of the heads of state and government as well as high-level delegations of 52 countries.
“When ASEM took off 17 years ago, I was heading the government in Bangladesh. I was enthused at this institutional engagement between the two continents covering a wide-ranging agenda, designed to appreciate each other’s values approaches and requirements,” Hasina said.
The prime minister said Asia and Europe have diversity and differences as well as mutuality of interests. In the contemporary world, she said, economic inter-dependence between our two continents remains substantial, and it continues to grow.
“We should strengthen our resolve to act collectively. ASEM has embodied our faith in the intensified dialogue and in the innovative and practical initiatives based on the best practices across our two continents,” she said
With the broader engagement within the ASEM process, she hoped, the Asian neighbourhood would be able to work with the European friends in seeking convergence on various global as well as regional challenges and opportunities.

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