Lee ready for meeting with leaders from EU, Asia

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Lee ready for meeting with leaders from EU, Asia

President Lee Myung-bak will visit Belgium next week to attend a meeting of Asian and European leaders and hold summit talks with his Belgian and EU counterparts, the Blue House said yesterday.

Lee plans to depart for Brussels on Sunday and join the eighth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) from Oct. 4-5, according to a press release.

Under the theme of “Quality of Life: Achieving greater well-being and more dignity for all citizens,” this year’s session will draw leaders from the 27 EU member states, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) as well as Korea, China, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and India. Australia, New Zealand and Russia will also take part in the biennial event as new members.

“Issues to be discussed at the ASEM summit this time include the world economy, sustainable development, global issues, regional security concerns... and the future of ASEM,” the Blue House said.

The leaders will issue a statement summarizing the results of their talks and adopt a declaration on the global economic crisis, it added.

Korea regards ASEM, an informal association of dialogue and cooperation between the two continents, as a useful multilateral diplomacy channel to bolster its relations with Asian neighbors and European nations.

Lee especially plans to use the upcoming event to gain support from ASEM member nations for Seoul’s plan to host the G-20 summit in November, the Blue House said.

The president is scheduled next Tuesday to sit down with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme to discuss substantive ways to expand the two nations’ cooperation in the economic and trade sector and exchange views on major global issues, the Blue House said.

Lee will also hold summit talks the following day with EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to talk about relations between Korea and the European Union.

The two will then attend the signing ceremony of the Korea-EU free trade agreement, which is slated to take effect next year.

Lee’s visit to Belgium will be the first trip there by a Korean president since 1995.

Lee is scheduled to return to Seoul on Sept. 30.

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