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Asem 2 Saturday, 4 April, 1998, 22:24 GMT 23:24 UK
Confident conclusion to summit
ASEM meeting
Talk of a new partnership between Asia and Europe
The Asia-Europe summit has ended in London with the declaration of a new partnership between the two continents aimed at strengthening ties into the next century.

Stanley Fischer
Fischer: "It's reasonable to be confident"
As the European and Asian leaders headed home, there was satisfaction at the progress they had made in rebuilding some confidence and helping the Asian economies which are in crisis. But no-one under-estimates the scale of the problems that still lie ahead.

The news from Indonesia - the country worst hit by economic woes and a weakened currency - is that the operations of seven banks have been suspended, while seven others have been placed under formal supervision because of their huge liquidity problems.

President Suharto
The Indonesian President Suharto is facing pressure at home
The moves against the banks are part of the programme of reforms for the Indonesian banking system agreed with the International Monetary Fund.

IMF officials who met President Suharto this week found encouragement from the IMF's Deputy Managing Director, Stanley Fischer.

Mr Fischer said that although recent events have been awkward in Indonesia, there were good reasons to look forward to positive advances.

"It is understood by everybody that this is a critical moment in the Indonesian economy and carrying out the programme is essential to its success, so on that basis it is reasonable to be confident."

Surin Pitsuwan
Surin Pitsuwan: "Japan is still strong"
But social unrest in Indonesia has been continuing. On Thursday and Friday, anti-government protests turned ugly as students calling for President Suharto's resignation clashed with riot police.

But it was the gloomy news from Japan that overshadowed the summit in London as the Yen hit a six-year low against the dollar. The fear is that if the Japanese economy deteriorates further, other east Asian nations will stand no chance of recovery.

The Thai Foreign Minister, Surin Pitsuwan, said he was confident that the problems in Japan and the rest of Asia can be overcome.

Students riot in a call to remove the Indonesian President Suharto
Students riot in a call to remove the Indonesian President Suharto
"I think Japan is fundamentally strong and I think that the leadership there know what has to be done. They have tried their best to balance the needs of Japan and the rest of the Asian economies."

Much has changed since the last Asia-Europe meeting in 1996, when the tiger economies of Asia were still roaring.

The next meeting will be in the year 2000 and it appears that both Asian and European leaders want to address many of the problems presented by then.

See also:

03 Apr 98 | Asem 2
02 Apr 98 | Asem 2
04 Apr 98 | Asem 2
Links to more Asem 2 stories are at the foot of the page.


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