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Asian, African Leaders Make Nostalgic Visit to Bandung

Heads of state from over 40 Asian and African countries re-enact their historic walk from 1955, as part of the conclusion of the Asia Africa Summit in Bandung
Leaders from Africa and Asia, meeting in Indonesia, have wrapped up their summit with a nostalgic visit to the resort town of Bandung. They marked the anniversary of the first Asian-African summit held there 50 years ago.

More than 40 heads of state from Asia and Africa gathered in Bandung Sunday, after wrapping up their summit in Jakarta where they endorsed a strategic economic and political partnership.

The agreement also calls for cooperation in the fight against terrorism, poverty and corruption, and agrees to promote human rights and democracy.

The participants - from more than 100 African and Asian countries and representing three quarters of the world's population - also agreed to work on reducing the effects of natural disasters that plague both continents.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose country co-hosted the conference with South Africa, says the aims of the first summit 50 years ago have been upheld.

"We also reaffirmed that the spirit of Bandung, which is the spirit of solidarity, friendship, and cooperation, continues to be a solid, relevant and effective foundation for fostering better relations among us, as well as for resolving global issues of common concern," he said.

The 1955 summit brought together 29 Asian and African leaders, most from newly independent countries, in a first attempt to make their voice heard on the world stage. It gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement, seen as an alternative to the power struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

But lofty as the goals were for this year's summit, it was largely overshadowed by Asian issues. These included a bitter dispute between China and Japan, North Korea's nuclear ambitions, and Burma's human rights record.

However, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki says the summit would result in real action to help the peoples of both continents.

"We did not meet in Jakarta as a formality; we did not meet in Jakarta merely to salute

Bandung, to revive and re-energize the spirit of Bandung, but we met in Jakarta because this whole leadership that is gathered here is determined to make sure that the lives of our people change for the better," he said.

Leaders planted trees in a Bandung park, one to represent each country, before heading home.