India's inclusion in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), an informal consultative forum for strengthening ties between the two continents, will increase the international importance of the grouping, an European Union official said on Tuesday.
"India's involvement is very important for ASEM... politically, economically as well as culturally," EU Ambassador (Head of Delegation to India, Bhutan and Nepal) Francisco da Camara Santa Clara Gomes told reporters here.
India, along with Pakistan and Mongolia, was included as ASEM's new Asian members, while Bulgaria and Romania were admitted as the new European members into the forum at its meeting that concluded in Helsinki on Monday.
"With the new partners, almost 60 per cent of the world's population will be involved in ASEM cooperation," an official statement said.
However, the forum, whose decision on political, economic and cultural issues have no binding on member countries due to its informal structure, has no plans to institutionalise the grouping, Gomes told the agency.
He said India, whose addition he felt would re-energise the grouping, too was against giving a bureaucratic character to the forum.
A key characteristic of ASEM is informality (complementing rather than duplicating the work already being carried out in bilateral and multilateral fora).
While looking forward to work with India, he said it was for New Delhi to decide on what role it would have in the ASEM framework, which now has 45 members in all.