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ASEM to help upholding BD’s image: FM

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Staff reporter
Bangladesh’s participation in the10th summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) will help the country appear as a ‘responsible’ and ‘active’ State at the global stage, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said yesterday.
“We hope the summit will help Bangladesh get introduced with ASEM-members as a responsible and active state,” he told a press conference at the Foreign Ministry.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Foreign Secretary M Shahhidul Haque, Secretary (Bilateral) Mustafa Kamal and other senior officials were present.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to leave Dhaka for the Italian city of Milan on Wednesday morning on a four-day visit to attend the summit. She will lead a 50-member official delegation along with 73 businesspeople.
The ASEM Summit, to be chaired by the President of the European Council and hosted by the Government of Italy, will be held in Milan on October 16-17.
The Foreign Minister said Sheikh Hasina will deliver her speech on Thursday at the plenary session of the summit highlighting Bangladesh’ s position on climate change issues, MDGs achievements, post-2015 development strategy, disaster-risk reduction and on how Asia-Europe communication can be strengthened.
“She’ll also deliver her speech identifying the areas of cooperation between Asia and the Europe,” said the Foreign Minister.
The Prime Minister will take part in discussion of the top leaders to be held on Friday in which various issues, including fight against terrorism, security challenges and issues of cooperation between Asia and the Europe, will be discussed.
“Europe is the largest development partner of Bangladesh and the biggest export market for Bangladesh. Through ASEM, Asian countries can together uphold their attitudes towards the European countries,” Mahmood Ali said.
Responding to a question, the Foreign Minister said the Prime Minister will hold a series of meetings with a number of head of the governments. “She’ll hold talks with the Prime Ministers of Italy, the Netherlands, Greece and Sweden apart from holding a meeting with the European Council President.”
The Foreign Minister said two new countries - Kazakhstan and Croatia - will become members of ASEM which has country 51 members. “Bangladesh has been always in favor of increasing members of ASEM. Bangladesh extended its supports to two new members.”
The Prime Minister will attend the summit at the invitation of her Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
The theme of the 10th ASEM Summit is ‘Responsible Partnership for Growth and Security’ that reflects the enlarging scope of the EU-Asia relationship.
The meeting will provide a key opportunity to convey a strong message of commitment to Asia, according to ASEM.
Both Europe and Asia want to act responsibly, abiding by their joint commitment to environmental protection, social dialogue, eradicating poverty, promotion and protection of human rights.
ASEM is increasingly moving towards a broader-based partnership to address jointly global and regional challenges, according to its official website.