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Li attends ASEM meeting in Milan

2014-10-17 08:34 Global Times Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

Summit a chance to boost silk road cooperation: expert

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is attending the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan, Italy, as heads of state from more than 50 countries gather to discuss closer Asia-Europe connectivity, practical cooperation and coordination on global issues.

The meeting began on Thursday and continues on Friday.

Li addressed the opening ceremony on Thursday. It is the first time he has attended this meeting since taking office.

Russian President Vladmir Putin is also expected to take center stage at the meeting. Putin is scheduled to hold face-to-face talks with his Ukraine counterpart Petro Poroshenko on Friday.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong previously said the Chinese premier will put forward cooperation initiatives and expound the country's stance on maintaining the international order, building an open global economy and strengthening Asia-Europe practical cooperation.

According to Jian Junbo, a foreign affairs professor from Fudan University in Shanghai, the summit is expected to focus on three main areas - enhancing connectivity between two continents in order to boost economic and financial cooperation, looking into solutions to global matters and discussing ways to strengthen talks and cooperation between the two continents as well as the development direction of ASEM.

"The ASEM summit has offered a good opportunity to bring the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road concepts to Asia-Europe cooperation," said Cui Hongjian, director of the Department for European Studies of the China Institute of International Studies.

Zhang Shengjun, professor from the School of Politics and International Relations at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Thursday that the summit is a crucial opportunity to help political leaders deepen their understanding of each other.

"The summit has drawn huge public attention in recent years because it involves so many countries. The summit will mainly help promote economic development between the two continents including the Eurasian Land Bridge and foreign trade," he said.

The two-day summit has formally accepted Kazakhstan and Croatia as its members, making the ASEM a 53-member forum with enhanced influence.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Europe and Asia have many shared interests, particularly in expanding trade and developing economies.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, hopes the two continents can join forces and communicate on issues such as fighting religious extremism and terrorism.

"Our interdependency goes way beyond economic ties. Our security is interlinked. Many Asian nations value political relations with European Union as a balancing element in their continental geopolitical ecosystem," she said.

The summit is held alternatively in Asia and Europe every two years.

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