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European, Asian Leaders Meet to Tackle Finance, Climate Change

Leaders of Asian and European nations plan to issue a joint statement on Saturday committing them to comprehensive reform of global financial systems, according to a draft seen on Friday.

group photo of ASEM participants

The meeting is the largest-ever gathering of leaders from Asia and Europe

"Leaders pledged to undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems," said the draft statement from the seventh biannual Asia-Europe Meeting, which opened on Friday, Oct. 24.

The leaders would urge all nations to adopt "responsible and sound monetary, fiscal, and financial regulatory policies, enhance transparency (and) inclusiveness, strengthen oversight and improve crisis management mechanisms."

"They recognized the need to improve the supervision and regulation of all financial actors, in particular their accountability," the draft said.

They "expressed full confidence that the crisis could be overcome" and supported the holding of an international summit on the crisis in Washington on Nov. 15, it said.

Largest-ever gathering

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, is greeted upon her arrival at the airport in Beijing on Oct. 23, 2008

EU leaders are expected to demand a climate change commitment from Asia

The largest-ever gathering of Asian and European leaders opened on Friday to discuss how to respond to the global financial crisis and combat climate change.

Talks on the financial crisis are expected to be "very intense" between leaders of the 27 European Union member states and 16 Asian nations at the seventh biannual Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing, Serge Abou, the EU's ambassador to China, told reporters earlier.

EU officials said separate "clusters" of discussions were planned on banking and financial systems, and that the EU nations hoped the meeting would promote trade talks between the two continents.

India and Pakistan are newcomers

This year's ASEM summit includes several new members, notably India and Pakistan, meaning the delegates represent a combined 50 to 60 percent of the global population and economy.

France, which holds the rotating European Union presidency, will present an ASEM statement on climate change under the theme of "Vision and action: towards a win-win solution."

Host nation China has drafted another joint statement on the financial crisis, while the EU wants to mark the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration on human rights with a "summit commitment to implementing human rights," said EU officials in Brussels.

EU to push Asia on climate change deal

The officials said the EU would push for "the maximum commitment we can get" from Asia on signing up to a post-Kyoto deal on climate change at talks in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The Asian nations attending the summit are the 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea and new members India, Pakistan and Mongolia.

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