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Economic turmoil tops agenda

European and Asian leaders, including PM Manmohan Singh today initiated discussions to find a coordinated global response to stem the financial turmoil and the spectre of recession sweeping the world.

world Updated: Oct 24, 2008 11:33 IST

European and Asian leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday initiated discussions to find a coordinated global response to stem the financial turmoil and the spectre of recession sweeping the world.

Singh, who arrived in Beijing from Tokyo to attend the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, said he hoped the meeting will come out with a solution to the many global problems triggered by the US credit crunch.

"This is the first time I am attending the ASEM as Prime Minister. 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," Singh said on his arrival.

Earlier, in Tokyo, Singh, an eminent economist, had said that the world was facing "multiple challenges".

"The spectre of recession in the global economy, coming as it does in the wake of the steep rises of energy and food prices, threatens to disrupt the rhythm of economic development in many developing countries," he said.

Developing countries like India are also affected by the crisis and have to be part of the solution, he had stressed.

"We cannot afford to risk the gains we have made in the last few years. Nor do we wish to remain vulnerable to infirmities in international surveillance, supervision and regulatory mechanisms in the future," the Prime Minister had said.

The same subject was brought up repeatedly at a series of leaders' meetings held in Beijing on Thursday.

"We sink together or we swim together," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters here.

"We need a coordinated global response to reform the global financial system. We are living in unprecedented times, and we need unprecedented levels of global coordination," the former Portuguese prime minister said.

"The latest events have made clear that the current model of financial regulation and supervision needs to be revamped at international level. We need Asia to be on board," he said.

"We hope leaders from Asian and European countries will take this opportunity to fully exchange views on how to strengthen coordination, cooperation in dealing with this issue. And we hope their discussion will be fruitful," said Barroso.

Host China has also said that the current world economic situation is grim and complicated.

"The emerging markets and developing countries are confronted with financial risks, weak foreign demand and mounting inflation," Chinese President Hu Jintao said.

Launched in 1996 as an informal dialogue mechanism, ASEM now includes 45 members, a body representing over 50 per cent of the world's gross domestic product.

The European side is represented by 27 European Union nations and the European Commission. The Asian members count 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Mongolia and the ASEAN Secretariat.

With the world preoccupied with the financial turmoil, the two-day summit will also draw the leaders' attention to other topics of energy, climate change and food security.

China will put forward a proposal on building an eco-city network in Asia, while France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, will present a statement on climate change, Xinhua news agency reported.