A visit to Asia-Pacific: so distant, so close

A visit to Asia-Pacific: so distant, so close

I write as I travel from Singapore to Seoul, the first two stops of an official visit to Asia-Pacific: I will then head to New Zealand and Australia. This region is geographically distant from Europe, but it is crucial to our security and our economy, and we have developed great cooperation on all the main global issues.

During the last two days I was in Singapore for the annual meeting of South-East Asia’s countries, for the ASEAN regional forum, and for the European Union-ASEAN ministerial meeting. South-East Asia is literally at the other side of the world. But we share the same vision of international relations, of multilateralism, of trade, of preventing radicalisation and fighting terrorism, of the fight against climate change –just to mention the main files in our cooperation, which is getting closer and closer (here is an article about it on EUobserver).

We work side by side with our partners in Asia-Pacific to accompany the negotiations to de-nuclearise the Korean peninsula. We are striking trade deals with the main regional economies, to protect our firms and create new opportunities. In our globalised world, Asia’s peace, security and economic growth are essential for Europe too.

Here is my speech opening the EU-ASEAN meeting, here is my conversation with students from the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and here is my interview to Singapore’s Business Times.

I was welcomed to Singapore by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. With the Foreign Ministers of China, Wang Yi, and of Japan, Taro Kono, we discussed how to strengthen even further our bilateral cooperation after the two summits we just held with their countries, which were very successful both politically and economically.

With them I also discussed the ongoing negotiations for reconciliation and a full de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Today and tomorrow I will be in Seoul and in the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas, to support the negotiations and discuss how best the European Union can accompany them.

With Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Canada’s Chrystia Freeland we discussed our excellent bilateral relations, but also how to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, our common work to protect the Rohingya refugees and their right to return home, and the situation in the Middle East.

In Singapore I met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, to discuss – in these very crucial days – our work to save the nuclear deal.

And I met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, talking our bilateral relations, how to relaunch the negotiations on Cyprus, and Syria.

It was also the opportunity to meet the new Foreign Minister of Malaysia Saifuddin Abdullah, the Foreign Minister of Vietnam Pham Binh Minh, of Thailand Don Pramudwinai, of Bangladesh Abul Hassan Mahmood, of Timor Est Dionisio Babo Soares, and of Laos Saleumxay Kommasith. Here are the press releases on my meetings (on Friday and Saturday).