India to take part in Asia-Europe meeting for the first time
India is joining the Asia-Europe Meeting as a new member, participating in the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers consultation which opens in Hamburg on Monday to discuss issues like nuclear proliferation, terrorism, climate change and the situation in Iraq.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will lead a high-level Indian delegation to the two-day meet that brings together Foreign Ministers from 43 nations in Europe and Asia.
It is being hosted by German Foreign Minister Franz-Walter Steinmeier in his capacity as the current president of the European Council of Ministers. The biennial ASEM meeting is the biggest event during Germany's six-month presidency of the EU which expires at the end of June.
The situation in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, the threats of nuclear proliferation, Iran's nuclear ambitions and the situation on the Korean Peninsula are among the themes on the agenda for discussions on the opening day.
On Tuesday, the ministers will turn their attention to issues such as fight against terrorism, energy security and combating climate change, but no major decisions are expected to emerge from the meeting.
Hamburg city authorities have put in place some of the most stringent security measures to ensure the safety of visiting dignitaries following threats by anti-globalisation campaigners to disrupt the event.
The authorities fear that the anti-globalisation activists might try to use the occasion for a trial run of their massive protest demonstrations planned for the summit of the seven leading industrialised nations and Russia which Germany will be hosting in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm early next month.