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Asia Cooperation Conference Welcomed

Asia Cooperation Conference Welcomed

The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building in Asia (CICA), which brings together a diverse range of countries from across the region, has a key role to play in advancing responses to major global challenges, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message to leaders gathered in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

"This summit draws upon a region of tremendous diversity, with human and natural resources that have much to offer each other and the world," Mr. Annan said in the message, which was delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.

He noted that while many of CICA member States are establishing new commercial ties, "still others are searching for opportunities to realize their full potential." Despite these differences, the Conference "plays a helpful role in advancing fruitful interaction and exchange, and in promoting conditions for stable economic growth," he said.

The Conference has 17 permanent members: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Mongolia, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan. In addition, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Ukraine, the United States and Viet Nam are observers, as are the UN, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the League of Arab States.

The Secretary-General noted hat CICA has addressed issues in the security, economic, environmental and cultural spheres. "I am glad to know that CICA is promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes. I welcome the opportunity to deepen UN-CICA cooperation in combating terrorism. And I am encouraged by the steps you are taking to promote tolerance and mutual understanding," he said.

On the sidelines of the Summit, Mr. Gambari is expected to meet several heads of State in attendance including the President of Aghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and the presidents of Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan.

En route to Almaty, Mr. Gambari visited Tajikistan, where he reviewed progress achieved in recent years through the UN Peacebuilding Office in the country, known by its acronym UNTOP. The visit coincided with the nine-year anniversary of the signing of the 1997 peace agreements ending that Tajikistan's civil war.

The UN is also working, through vehicles such as the UN-supported Forum on Conflict Prevention for Central Asia, to promote regional cooperation among Central Asian countries in combating terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.


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