Seoul: Effective policy-making and some general socializing would be the focus of the upcoming meet where supporters have linked 30 countries across Asia and the Middle East as they meet in South Korea this week.
The five-year-old Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) complements an alphabet soup of other Asian groupings such as ASEAN, SAARC and APEC.
Seoul’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shim Yoon-Joe says it is significant as the first and only body covering the entire Asian continent, including the Middle East. However, critics are having doubts, saying that the membership is too diverse for it to be meaningful.
So far 22 of the 30 participating members have confirmed they would send either foreign ministers or other minister-level officials.
The emphasis will be on cooperation in information technology. Efforts to persuade North Korea to scrap its nuclear programmes will also be raised, along with energy security and other topics.
“The dialogue will focus on how to ease discrepancies in information in the Asian region,” South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon said recently.
“We are in consultations with member countries to adopt a Seoul IT Declaration through the talks.” South Korea, one of the world’s most wired countries, has 70% of its homes connected to broadband.
Extensive discussions about the North Korean nuclear issue, energy security and other various regional issues of mutual concern are also on the agenda besides exploring possibilities of bilateral and trilateral talks between foreign policymakers.
The brainchild of then-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra the event was first held in June 2002 at the Thai resort of Cha-Am. On the official website it says that the 2007 coming together aims at constituting the missing link in Asia by incorporating every Asian country and building an Asian community without duplicating other organizations or creating a bloc against others.”
Members include Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.