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Asian, African Leaders Call for Greater Cooperation

Asian and African leaders have opened a two-day summit in Indonesia Friday calling for greater economic and political cooperation between the two continents.

The leaders are calling for greater economic and political cooperation between their two continents to boost competitiveness in an increasingly globalized world.

The calls for cooperation came Friday during the opening of the two-day Asian-African Summit in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, where 40 heads of state from more than 100 countries on both continents have gathered.

South African president, Thabo Mbeki, says this summit should build on the spirit of the first Asian-African summit held 50 years ago in the Indonesian city of Bandung.

"We have made great strides, significant strides towards giving real meaning to the critical

Leaders and their delegation members representing Muslim nations of Asia and Africa offer prayers together during the Asia-Africa Summit in Jakarta
summit brought together leaders from newly independent countries to make their mark of the world stage. It was the forerunner of the nonaligned movement, which provided an alternative alliance to the super power struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War.

This summit, leaders will endorse a declaration called the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership, which aims to bring the two continents closer economically, politically, and socially by promoting trade and tackling problems such as terrorism and global crime.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says the declaration will emphasize the need for practical cooperation to boost the global influence of nations hosting 73 percent of the world's population.

"Through the strategic partnership Asia-Africa can be transformed," he said. "No longer just as a geographical expression but as a true geopolitical and economical reality."

Chinese President Hu Jintao says his country's economic might should serve as a model for the two continents. Speaking in Jakarta he said China will always be a champion of the Third World and is eager to share its experience with African and Asian nations.

Since liberalizing its economy two decades ago, Communist China is now a powerhouse, posting economic growth topping nine percent.