Foreign ministers at Asia-Europe Meeting stress need to uphold, revitalise multilateralism

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) was among the attending ministers at the 14th Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Madrid, Spain. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

MADRID - Foreign ministers attending an Asian-European political dialogue have emphasised the need to uphold and revitalise multilateralism.

The ministers also support continued efforts towards enhancing partnership on issues including climate change, free trade, economic integration, connectivity and a rules-based international order.

The points were made at the 14th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Madrid, Spain, held on Sunday (Dec 15) and Monday.

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was among the attending ministers.

"Asian and European ministers reaffirmed our support for the rules-based multilateral system, free trade, and economic integration between our regions. In times of great global uncertainty, it is ever more important that we double down on these principles," Dr Balakrishnan said on Facebook.

The ministers recognise the unique role that Asem plays as a platform for informal dialogue to foster better understanding between Asia and Europe, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on Monday.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Dr Balakrishnan had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the European Union, as well as foreign ministers from European and Asian countries. They had wide-ranging discussions over common challenges, regional and international developments, and ways to enhance cooperation, MFA said in the statement.

Asem was conceived in 1996 jointly by Singapore's then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong and then-French president Jacques Chirac. It has 53 partners from across Asia and Europe.

Dr Balakrishnan continues his visit in Italy and the Vatican City from Tuesday to Thursday.

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