PM's dominant role in India's maiden participation in ASEM

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Beijing, Oct 23 (UNI) The raging global economic turmoil will dominate Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's engagement tomorrow with world leaders during his two-day stay here to attend the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM-7), which is also likely to come out with a statement on the international financial situation.

It is for the first time that India participates in the ASEM at a summit-level meeting, a biennial exercise, after it was admitted a year ago along with four other nations to make it a 45-member grouping.

''I sincerely hope that this meeting of minds between Europe and Asia will produce a solution to many global problems, including the international financial crisis,'' Dr Singh said in a statement here today on his arrival at the Beijing international airport after winding up his three-day engagement in Japan where both the countries decided to step up security cooperation and strive for an economic partnership agreement.

He said India's participation in the summit ''is a natural corollary of our close and growing ties with countries in Asia and Europe.'' In continuation of his discussion with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on the global financial turbulence, Dr Singh would make constructive suggestions, in his capacity also as a renowned economist, in the formulation of policies aimed at alleviating the world economy from the financial crisis, especially in the context of the European Union nations being keen to work jointly with Asian giants Japan, China and India in setting up policy barriers to protect the Asian and European continents from the happenings in the US financial markets.

At a bilateral meeting in Tokyo yesterday, Dr Singh and Mr Aso spent considerable time discussing the global economic turmoil.

Both of them agreed that there must be some kind of Asian response to the crisis. ''When to do this and how to do this will take time to evolve,'' Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said.

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