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African, Asian Governments Seek New Partnership - 2004-08-20

A meeting of Asian and African nations in South Africa is proposing a new partnership, to be called the New Asian/African Strategic Partnership, which delegates say should be used to empower the two continents in world affairs.

Foreign ministers from Asia and Africa meeting in the coastal city of Durban say countries in the two continents should make use of their natural resources to bring peace, stability and prosperity to their people.

The new partnership is to be launched in Jakarta next April. It is expected to represent 100 countries and some four billion people.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told delegates that many countries on the two continents are still not benefiting from the rapid expansion of globalization. Mr. Wirajuda said that African and Asian countries should urgently develop a collective strategy to change this trend.

South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the new partnership must be used to empower member states to fight their marginalization in the global community. Speaking later on national radio, Ms. Dlamini-Zuma said the first goal must be to identify constraints in trade between countries in Africa and Asia.

"We are here to identify what are the things that stop the trade and what do we need to do to remove those obstacles," she said.

Ms. Dlamini-Zuma said that in many cases Africa is not even marketing its own goods in Asia. "If you look at what is going on, what Asia gets from Europe, a lot of it, Europe gets from Africa. That is following colonial routes that we gave our resources to the north and then the north redistributes it," she said.

Delegates say the first order of business for the new partnership will be to scrutinize all trade and investment between the two continents, identify problems and find ways of solving them.