Regional integration taking place in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region should be compatible with the World Trade Organization and should lead progressively to the lowering of external barriers by both regions, young leaders in politics, academics and business from 25 Asian and European countries agreed, Foreign Ministry officials said Mar. 13.

At the Asia-Europe Young Leaders Symposium, which was held from Mar. 10 to Mar. 12 in Miyazaki Prefecture, the leaders agreed that “turning inwards is not a viable option,” said Tommy Koh, executive director of the Asia-Europe Foundation in a closing statement, according to the officials. The symposium was proposed by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto at the first summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting, which was held last March in Bangkok. Hashimoto proposed the symposium to deepen ties and understanding between Asian and European countries. Austria will host the second symposium next year.

The participants also agreed to strengthen the efficiency of the WTO, and expressed support for early participation of China in the international body, the officials said. On the security issue, the participants agreed to strengthen cooperation to maintain security in each region. “Asians welcome the constructive role which Europe is playing in the ASEAN Regional Forum. … I hope that Europeans also welcome the role that some Asians have played in helping Europeans to find answers to situations of conflicts and tension,” Koh said in the statement, according to the ministry officials.

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