India to remain excluded from Apec till 2010 at least

India to remain excluded from Apec till 2010 at least

Melbourne: India, seeking entry into the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, will have to wait for at least another three years as the group’s leaders have decided to take up the issue of membership in 2010.

The Apec leaders agreed to look at the membership issue in 2010, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said at the end of the club’s annual summit in Sydney.

Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mitsuo Sakaba, however, said the leaders were undecided between a three-year and five-year extension of a moratorium preventing new members joining the group.

But the Australian leader, the host of the summit, said the three years’ timeframe was agreed to by the members.

The decision means India will have to wait until at least 2010, when Japan hosts the meeting, to see if it can join the Asia-Pacific club. India is among 11 countries seeking membership of the group.

Aside from India, other potential Apec candidates include Colombia, Ecuador, Macau, Mongolia, Pakistan, Panama, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Viewing India as an emerging “great power", the leaders of US, Australia and Japan during their security dialogue yesterday on the sideline of the Apec summit had expressed keenness to strengthen ties with New Delhi.

Howard also said that the Apec summit will be held next year in Peru, then in Singapore, Japan, US and Russia.

Apec groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.