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Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Seoul braces for protests
Police on the streets in Seoul
Seoul wants to avoid Seattle-style riots
Thousands of riot police have been deployed in the South Korean capital Seoul amid fears of anti-capitalist demonstrations at Friday's Asia-Europe (Asem) summit.

Armoured personnel carrier
Armoured personnel carriers are also on the streets of Seoul
Officers wearing bullet proof vests have cordoned off the conference centre and two hotels where some of the world leaders will be staying.

Seoul is anxious to avoid the mass anti-globalisation protests which overshadowed international conferences in Seattle last November and Prague last month.

Asian members of Asem
Brunei, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam
Asem, which meets every two years, groups the 15 European Union members and 10 Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan and China.

Ministerial meetings between member countries began on Thursday ahead of the two-day conference.

Human rights

Asem 2000, the biggest ever diplomatic gathering hosted by Seoul, will focus on regional security, globalisation and economic co-operation.

Human rights, drug trafficking, money laundering, the sexual exploitation of women and children, the environment and Aids are also on the agenda.

Tony Blair and Robin Cook arrive in Seoul
Britain is to establish diplomatic ties with North Korea
The news agency AFP says officials are urgently trying to work out a compromise on the wording of a final general statement to be issued at the end of the summit.

It says China, Malaysia and Singapore oppose moves by some European nations to include democracy and human rights in the declaration, calling it interference in internal affairs.

Another summit initiative will be the Seoul Declaration on Korean Peace which is intended to aid reconciliation efforts between the two Koreas.

Main Asem issues
Regional security in Europe and Asia
Globalisation
Economic and financial co-operation
Social issues including
crime
women/child welfare
environment
educational exchanges
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announced in Seoul on Thursday that the United Kingdom was establishing diplomatic ties with communist North Korea.

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who met North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il for the first time this year, won the Nobel Peace Prize last week in recognition of his efforts to end hostilities on the peninsula.

Protest

Asem 2000 is the biggest international event hosted by South Korea since the 1988 Olympics.

China's Prime Minister Zhu Rongji and Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
Asem aims to forge closer ties between Asia and Europe
The AFP news agency says almost 30,000 police, a fifth of the country's force, will be on duty.

An anti-Asem rally will be held in Seoul's Olympic Park on Friday with organisers predicting at least 20,000 people.

Asem was launched in Bangkok in March 1996 as Europe's response to the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum which reinforces America's ties with Asia - but excludes the 15 EU states.

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See also:

19 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
UK and North Korea forge ties
13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
04 Apr 98 | Asem 2
Confident conclusion to summit
19 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Is Asem running out of steam?
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