CENTRAL ASIA PLUS JAPAN DIALOGUE CONTINUES
Astana, November 17: On November 9-10 Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Erlan Idrissov, was in Japan to attend the fourth meeting of Foreign Ministers of the six countries participating in the «Central Asia plus Japan Dialogue». At the meeting chaired by Japan’s Foreign Minister, Koichiro Gemba, the focus was on three themes: how to advance economic integration, strengthen stability and ensure security in Central Asia. Ministers discussed ways of addressing shared regional problems in areas such as the management of water and energy resources; the introduction of new energy-saving technologies and renewable energy sources; and the effi cient development of the transit and transportation potential of Central Asia. A separate meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, off ered the opportunity for further exploration of important aspects of regional cooperation and partnership. After this week’s meetings, Japan pledged to contribute USD 700 million to joint projects across five areas: trade investment, environment and energy-saving, narrowing the wealth gap, cooperation on disaster prevention and cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan. «Promoting cooperation between Japan and Central Asia will contribute to sustaining peace and stability in Afghanistan and resolve problems in the international community,» said Japan’s Foreign Minister, Mr Gemba. The Central Asia plus Japan Dialogue was established on Japan’s initiative in August 2004, to raise relations between Japan and Central Asia to a new level by creating an enhanced framework for cooperation. The four Central Asian members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, while Turkmenistan participates as an observer. At the inaugural meeting of the Dialogue in Astana, the fi ve main objectives were defi ned as:
• The strengthening of peace, stability, and democracy in the Central Asian region
• The strengthening of the region’s economic foundations, the promotion of reform and the social development of the region, including the correction of intra-regional disparities
• The strengthening of intra-regional cooperation by the Central Asian countries
• The maintenance and development of good relations between Central Asia and neighboring regions as well as with the international community
Speaking after the meeting of Foreign Ministers, Mr Idrissov said that the Dialogue can make a real contribution to ensuring stability in the Central Asian region and to developing economic, commercial, investment, cultural and humanitarian cooperation. The Minister said that the technological and intellectual prowess of Japan, combined with its rich experience of interregional economic cooperation, meant the country could act as a catalyst to advance many positive developments in Central Asia. He emphasized that resolution of some of the region’s problems could be facilitated by an improved coordinated eff ort by Central Asian countries and a higher level of technological input, and welcomed Japan’s desire to imbue regional cooperation with a constructive spirit.