The European Union and the United States agreed on Thursday to enhance their cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, stressing on the importance they attach to the thriving region as well as its peaceful and dynamic development.
The announcement was made following a meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh to exchange views on developments in the Asia-Pacific.
According to a statement released by Ashton's office after the meeting, the two diplomats acknowledged during their talks that "interdependence between Asia, the European Union and the United States has reached unprecedented levels."
"Closer consultation between the European Union and the United States on Asia-Pacific issues bilaterally, and with partners across the region, will be aimed at advancing regional security, development, well-being, and prosperity," the statement said.
The EU and the US also welcomed the progress being made in regional cooperation and integration in the Asia-Pacific, and noted that the development enhances the capacity of the region to address complex trans-national issues, while contributing to strengthened governance.
The statement said both EU and the US intend to seek closer cooperation with Asian partners in fighting transnational crime, terrorism and addressing cyber-security issues, while ensuring freedom of expression and the free flow of information in accordance with international law. It added that the two sides were already cooperating with their partners in the region to build disaster preparedness and crisis response capacity.
"The European Union and the United States commit to strengthening cooperation in counter-piracy based on international law including dealing with its root causes. Both sides plan to work with Asian partners on increasing maritime security based on international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and lend assistance to the development of confidence building measures to reduce the risk of crises and conflict," the statement said.
Regarding the ongoing tensions triggered by maritime issues in the South China Sea, the two sides said they will continue to encourage regional grouping ASEAN and China to advance a Code of Conduct and to resolve territorial and maritime disputes through peaceful, diplomatic and cooperative solutions.
Both EU and the US agreed to continue working together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Asia-Pacific region and urged North Korea to live up to its international obligations and commitments. They also welcomed the transformations taking place in Myanmar, and noted the importance of increased coordination on development assistance as well as responsible and transparent private sector investments.
The two sides also underscored the importance of open markets in enhancing growth and development in the Asia-Pacific region, which also has a direct and positive impact on the economies of the European Union and the United States. Further, they decided to continue working together and with partners to improve reciprocal market access for goods and services including government procurement, to reduce non-tariff-barriers, to provide legal security for investment, and to protect intellectual property rights.
As part of their efforts to intensify cooperation with Asia-Pacific partners to address regional and global challenges, both EU and the US agreed to continue "the regular high level EU-US dialogue on the region at the political and senior officials' level," the statement added.
by RTT Staff Writer
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