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ASEM Luxemburg

ASEM Foreign Ministers meet in Luxemburg

9 November 2015

53 Foreign or Deputy Foreign Ministers met in Luxemburg on 5-7 November for the biannual Asia-Europe meeting. The ministerial was partly to review the international scene and partly to discuss closer EU-Asia cooperation, including the future of ASEM itself. Next July government leaders will meet in Ulan Bator for the ASEM summit.

In Luxemburg ministers agreed on the need for an ambitious climate change outcome at COP 21 although there were no specific commitments.

The second big issue on the table was strengthening connectivity between Europe and Asia from physical infrastructures, transport, energy, digital connectivity to people-to-people linkages.

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trilateral summit

Asia Summit Season in Full Swing

5 November 2015

Asian leaders can keep their suitcases ready as they fly off to a succession of summits in the coming weeks. Last weekend the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea met after a three-year break in what was supposed to be an annual summit. The forthcoming ASEAN summit will be followed by the APEC and East Asia summits. Many leaders will also meet during the G20 and COP 21 summits in Turkey and France. There are also several bilateral summits coming up with the meeting between President Xi and President Ma of Taiwan perhaps the most important as it marks a first in cross-straits relations. The two Chinese leaders will meet in Singapore and in an interesting piece of summit diplomacy have agreed to split the bill – to avoid either being seen to ‘invite’ the other. President Xi will also be visiting Vietnam on 6 November en route to the Singapore dinner.

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XI in UK

Concern at British Red Carpet for President Xi

30 October 2015

A ‘new golden era’ between ‘new global partners’ with the UK wanting to be China’s ‘best friend in the West’ – these were just a few of the headlines surrounding the visit of China’s President Xi to the UK in October. It was little wonder that many in Washington and Brussels raised eyebrows at the extravagant welcome for China’s top political ruler.

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NZ and Juncker

EU and New Zealand to open FTA negotiations

30 October 2015

New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, and Presidents Tusk and Juncker, agreed on 29 October to start scoping talks for a potential FTA. The two sides have already signed a political partnership agreement so this is the logical next step. The EU had been reluctant to open further FTA negotiations as DG Trade was already stretched with TTIP, the EU-Japan FTA and trade negotiations with other countries. Now it seems the way is clear for talks between two very like-minded partners in global affairs.

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TPP Agreed

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreed

11 October 2015

Last week in Atlanta, the trade ministers of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam, announced that they had successfully concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Their statement said that ‘after more than five years of intensive negotiations, we have come to an agreement that will support jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development, and promote innovation across the Asia-Pacific region. Most importantly, the agreement achieves the goal we set forth of an ambitious, comprehensive, high standard and balanced agreement that will benefit our nation\'s citizens.’

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DPRK 70 years

DPRK Displays Military Might

11 October 2015

There was no rocket test but the DPRK Workers Party celebrated its 70th anniversary in power on 10 October with a remarkable display of military might during a two-hour parade in Pyongyang.

 

There were no Western or regional leaders in attendance but China sent Lui Yunshan, a senior Politburo member. It is likely that China only agreed to send such a high-level representative if the DPRK agreed not to use the occasion for another missile test. Lui brought a letter from President Xi, who has yet to meet Kim Jong Un, underlining China’s desire for stable relations (code for China’s displeasure at the DPRK’s nuclear programme).

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EU-ROK Summit 2015

Routine EU-Korea Summit

16 September 2015

On 15 September, President Park hosted President Tusk and Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström for the annual EU-Korea summit in Seoul. This was largely a routine summit as relations between the two sides are very good and there are few major issues of disagreement. Korea is the only country in Asia with which the EU has three major agreements covering trade, political and security cooperation.

It was also an interesting summit from an institutional perspective as this was the first summit where the usual EU tandem of President of the Council and President of the Commission were not both present. Juncker had pressing issues at home, notably migration, and his role was divided between Tusk and Malmström.

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Lee Hsien Loong

People's Action Party (PAP) wins Singapore election

14 September 2015

The ruling PAP intensified their five decade hold on power by winning nearly 70% of the two million votes cast and 83 of 89 seats in last Friday’s elections. The opposition, running in all constituencies for the first time, had hoped to challenge the PAP\'s dominance which had seen their share of the vote drop to 60% in 2011.

Presidents Tusk and Juncker said in a congratulatory statement that ‘we look forward to continuing the excellent cooperation between the EU and Singapore. Our Free Trade and Partnership and Cooperation Agreements will deepen our bilateral ties and enable us to better address emerging global challenges. These Agreements will also serve as stepping stones for greater engagement between the EU and Southeast Asia. As Singapore prepares for the future, we look forward to meeting Prime Minister Lee to discuss the next chapter of our relationship.’

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Mogherini at ARF 2

Mogherini attends ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

4 September 2015

Mogherini continued her hectic travel schedule well into the summer break by attending her first ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Kuala Lumpur in August. Her visit was well received and follows up on the Joint Communication \"The EU and ASEAN: A partnership with a strategic purpose\" and the corresponding Council conclusions from June 2015 which agreed a further strengthening of EU-ASEAN relations. Mogerhini was also able to build on her Shangri-La speech in June when she outlined the EU’s comprehensive approach to security questions. Pursuing this aim, the EU presents itself as a unique partner for ASEAN offering a variety of tools to assist ASEAN with its ambitious programme of regional integration. Mogherini\'s participation in the ARF reinforced the EU’s commitment to EU-ASEAN relations, a message further reinforced by the recent appointment of the first dedicated ambassador to ASEAN, Francisco Fontan Pardo.

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Korea talks defuse tension

Korea Talks defuse tension

2 September 2015

The world has become used to an increase in tension between the DPRK and South Korea during the annual military manoeuvres between the US and South Korea.  But this time the stand-off reached a new and heightened stage after two South Korean border guards were badly injured due to an alleged North Korean mine. This led to a brief exchange of artillery fire between the two sides with, fortunately, no one being injured.

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