• Kyodo

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Asian and European leaders holding a summit in Laos signaled Tuesday the need for stronger economic and financial cooperation between the two regions, recognizing uncertainties and downside risks for their countries as Europe battles to resolve its debt crisis.

In the chairman’s statement adopted at the end of a two-day summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting, leaders encouraged sharing their experiences from implementing regional crisis management arrangements, including the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s permanent rescue fund.

The leaders and their deputies from 49 countries and two regional organizations also committed to refraining from putting up new barriers to investment or trade, while rolling back protectionist measures introduced in recent years.

On the second day of the biennial summit, the participants discussed regional affairs and global issues such as climate change, sustainable development and nuclear safety as well as sociocultural cooperation and the future of the grouping.

On the summit sidelines, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

No talks were held between Noda and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, either formally or informally. Wen left the summit Tuesday morning, apparently to prepare for the Communist Party of China’s national congress that starts Thursday.

Relations between Japan and China remain strained due to the Senkaku Islands dispute.

Meanwhile, Noda and South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang Sik had a brief chat at a dinner Monday night and agreed on the importance of bilateral ties, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Japan and South Korea are working to improve frayed ties over the Takeshima dispute.

Noda met bilaterally with the leaders of Laos, Cambodia, Poland, the European Union and the Philippines on Sunday and Monday. He was scheduled to return to Japan on Wednesday.

Discussions at the ASEM summit on Monday focused on ways to strengthen cooperation between the two regions amid the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

The next ASEM summit will be hosted by the European Union in Brussels in the second half of 2014.

ASEM, launched in 1996, consists of 27 European Union members, 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, Australia, China, India, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea and three new members — Bangladesh, Switzerland and Norway — as well as the European Union and the ASEAN secretariat.

The three new members were added to the grouping from this summit.

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