VIENTIANE, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Four new members, namely Australia, Myanmar, New Zealand and Russia, are admitted to the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP) at the first plenary session of the Seventh ASEP (ASEP-7) opened in Lao capital Vientiane on Wednesday morning.
The meeting is to hold accession ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, with national flags reposition and the playing of national anthems of the new member countries.
With the new members admitted, ASEP has 47 members, among which 16 countries in Asia, 28 in Europe, two in Oceania and the European Parliament, and three observers namely Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland.
The ASEP-7 meeting themed "Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership for Sustainable Development" is to last for two days till Thursday.
ASEP-7 is to hold two panel discussions on Thursday. For the economic matters panel, lead speakers from China, Finland, South Korea and IMF are to present reports on ensuring food security in the current situation of global climate change and on strengthening the Asia-Europe cooperation in the field of public debts for sustainable development.
For the social and environmental matters panel, lead speakers from Belgium, Indonesia and UNISDR (United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) will present reports on Asia- Europe partnership in increasing social participation for disaster management.
ASEP is part of partnership process between Asia and Europe and serves as a forum for inter-parliamentary contacts, exchanges and diplomacy among parliaments. It aims to promote mutual understanding among the people and countries of Asia and Europe and provide a link between parliaments of Asia and Europe and ASEM.
The first ASEP meeting was held in Strasbourg, France, in 1996; the second in Manila, capital of the Philippines in 2002; the third in Hue in central Vietnam in 2004; the fourth in Helsinki, capital of Finland in 2006; the fifth in Beijing, capital of China in 2008; and the sixth in Brussels, Belgium in 2010. ASEP meetings are normally convened on a regular bi-annual basis alternately in Asia and in Europe before the ASEM Summit.
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