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Ministers to discuss wildlife and disaster pacts at EAS meet

Ministers from 18 countries at the East Asia Summit (EAS) will today adopt a declaration on dealing with wildlife trafficking and another on disaster relief, Foreign Ministry's director general of Asean Affairs Arthayudh Srisamoot said.

The first item is an EAS Declaration on Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Wildlife Enforcement Network all helped draft.

Ministers will consider the declaration at the ongoing EAS summit in Myanmar, before submitting it for a final okay at the summit of Asean leaders later this year.

The second document up for acceptance is the EAS guideline on rapid disaster response, which Australia and the Philippines drafted jointly for the ministers' consideration, he said. This too will be presented to Asean leaders later in the year.

Since some 50 per cent of the world's disasters take place in the Asia-Pacific, countries in the region badly need quick emergency responses, Arthayudh said, adding that the guidelines will make it possible to enhance rapid deployment of disaster relief and assistance to affected people.

The EAS is made up of 18 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including the 10 members of Asean, plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, Russia and the United States.

Separately, Arthayudh also attended a meeting with senior officials from Asean+3 (China, Japan and South Korea) to consider the progress of cooperation between Asean and countries in Northeast Asia.

Asean+3 are cooperating in 20 sectors including energy and the environment. Thailand managed to push forward a proposal to enhance "connectivity" two years ago, but no progress has been made in this matter.

The Thai delegation would put more effort in getting each individual country in the region better linked, he said.

Connectivity would help facilitate trade and economic activity, he added, noting that in the meantime countries should be aware of transboundary issues such as trafficking, smuggling, migration and cross-border disease.

At the meeting Thailand also proposed that the rice-reserve scheme - which plays a crucial role in helping countries facing shortages due to natural disasters - be expanded to cover other crops.

"It would be better if we had more crops and grains for affected people who may not be familiar with rice," he said.


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