Abu Dhabi: The Gulf nations are integral part of Asia and they want to do more to engage with other Asian nations, says Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“Sometimes we forget that Gulf countries are Asian countries as well. We want to do more together in exploring best out of us,” Shaikh Abdullah said at the 15th Ministerial Meeting of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), which was held in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
Shaikh Abdullah made these remarks while responding to a speech made by Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Shaikh Abdullah said: “Bahrain has been strongly encouraging us to do more to engage with Asia [other Asian nations]. Your highness, thank you for keeping on encouraging us,” he said.
In his opening remarks at the meeting, Shaikh Abdullah reiterated the UAE’s commitment towards Asian people’s ambitions and achieving prosperity in the continent. He highlighted the common efforts under the umbrella of ACD, a 34-member forum established in 2002, which aims to incorporate every Asian country and build an Asian community.
Shaikh Abdullah stressed the ACD’s common framework to fight climate change and achieve sustainable development. A knowledge-based economy, sustainability, and innovation are important to attain prosperity for all, he said.
It was announced at the meeting that Kuwait would host the ACD’s permanent secretariat, the administrative organ of the forum. An agreement was signed at the meeting to this effect. Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Bundit Limschoon, secretary-general of ACD, signed the agreement.
Al Sabah said Kuwait was hosting the provisional secretariat since 2013 and was happy to host the permanent secretariat.
Don Pramudwinai, Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs who is the chairman of ACD, said all members are keen to take forward the common spirit among Asian nations for a better future.
According to the founding principles of the ACD, the forum aims to consolidate Asia’s strengths and fortify its competitiveness by maximising the diversity and rich resources in the continent. The ACD ministers meet annually at the ACD Ministerial Meetings to discuss ACD developments, issues of regional cooperation and ways to enhance and solidify Asian unity. Foreign ministers also meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September to update each other on the progress of ACD project cooperation, to hold constructive discussions on international issues of concern and to strengthen the ‘voice of Asia’ in the international arena.
In implementing common projects, many member-countries have proposed 20 areas of cooperation, such as energy, agriculture, biotechnology, tourism, poverty alleviation, IT development, e-education and financial cooperation.
Main objectives of the ACD
1. To promote interdependence among Asian countries in all areas of cooperation by identifying Asia’s common strengths and opportunities which will help reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for Asian people while developing a knowledge-based society.
2. To expand the trade and financial market within Asia and increase the bargaining power of Asian countries, and enhance Asia’s economic competitiveness in the global market.
3. To serve as the missing link in Asian cooperation by building upon Asia’s potentials and strengths through supplementing and complementing existing cooperative frameworks so as to become a viable partner for other regions.
4. To ultimately transform the Asian continent into an Asian Community, capable of interacting with the rest of the world on a more equal footing and contributing more positively towards mutual peace and prosperity.