MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
3 September 1999
East Asia Leaders' Dialogue, Coolum, 2-4 September 1999
I am very pleased to co-chair, with the Thai Foreign Minister, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the East Asia Leaders' Dialogue, being held at the Hyatt Regency Coolum, on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, form 2 to 4 September.
I had the idea of a Dialogue after the 1998 ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference in Manila. The East Asian economic crisis was still fresh and unfolding at that time, and its duration and consequences were impossible to predict. I thought it would be useful to pose some questions about other dimensions to the crisis, to take some time to think about the wider implications of the crisis, and to explore some of the implications for regional leadership and political structures in the post-recovery environment.
My idea was to bring together a small group of influential East Asia leaders as a means of generating open and constructive debate on the challenges and opportunities facing the region - looking at the economic, political and social change in the region. It is my hope that it will provide an opportunity for frank and private discussion looking forward rather than focusing on what caused the East Asian economic crisis. Participants have from ASEAN member countries, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
For Australia's part, I believe Australia has demonstrated that it is committed to, and that its future is tied up with, East Asia. We recognise the long-term mutually beneficial relationship with the region. It is in all of our interests that from the economic crisis a credible and confident East Asian region re-emerges that is able to address issues of regional and international importance through open and frank debate.
I hope this will be the first in an ongoing series of meetings of the important group of individuals.
Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500
Department - Tony Melville 02 6261 1555
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