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Ministers meeting of ASEAN+3 calls for co-op on food security

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PHNOM PENH, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The 10th meeting of ASEAN Ministers Plus their three dialogue partners concluded Sunday in Cambodia, calling for further cooperation in food, agriculture and forestry sectors.

Chan Sarun, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries of Cambodia and a chair of the meeting of the ASEAN+3 Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry said the meeting concluded Sunday in a fruitful deliberation concerning food security among other things related to agriculture and forestry.

"I highly commend that the friendship and cooperation with the ASEAN+3 is a significant driving force for further successful cooperation and the sustainable development of our ASEAN Community, " he said.

"I would like to express my thanks and sincere commendation to our partners from the People's Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea for support and contribution to the great success of all ASEAN member states," he added.

Gao Hongbin, deputy minister of agriculture of China, pointed out at the meeting that "food security is a serious issue for human subsistence and development." There are still many uncertainties on the world and regional food security, due to the recent extreme weather conditions including floods and droughts, he added.

"We suggested to strengthen dialogue and cooperation within the countries of the region and to take active and effective coordination of policy and action in order to make contributions for the development of agriculture and food security in the region and world," Gao said, adding that the Chinese government always attaches great importance to food and agricultural cooperation in the East Asia area and maintains that the regional countries should pay attention to expanding overall grain production capacity, strengthen the exchange of agricultural technology and demonstration, and seek to fundamentally improve the level of food supply and the ability to withstand any food crisis.

Gao stressed that China's agricultural development not only meets the domestic needs of the people, but is also beneficial to agricultural development in neighboring countries.

"This meeting provides us with a good communication platform," Gao said, promising that "We will continue to work with countries in the region to maintain close communication and carry out a pragmatic and efficient cooperation in an effort to make contributions to the enhancement of the grain production capacity and regional food security.

A joint press statement released after the meeting said, "The ministers reiterated that food security is a major contributing factor for sustained economic and social development stability in the region."

"The ministers agreed to formalize the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve as a permanent scheme for meeting emergency requirements and achieving humanitarian purposes. The ministers urged all ASEAN Plus Three Countries for the early signing of the Agreement and affirmed their support for implementation of the scheme," it added.

Delivering a speech to the gathering of ministers and deputy ministers of agriculture and forestry on Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said "I think ASEAN+3 countries, which are highly developed, need to assist ASEAN members that are less developed in order to increase agricultural yields."

The prime minister urged for a continuation in strengthening the cooperation in technology development, and investment in the agriculture sector between states in the ASEAN, ASEAN+3 to ensure food supply and food security.

"This includes the plan to establish and strengthen the information system about food security for ASEAN+3 in the future," he said.

Cambodia is hosting and chairing a series of meetings that began on Oct. 20 and will last until Oct. 26 which include the senior officials meeting, plenary sessions of the 32nd ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry and 10th ASEAN+3 Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry and other sideline meetings, all of which focus on promoting further cooperation which are evidence of effort and new fruitful progress concerning the food security.

The plenary meeting of the ministerial levels met from Saturday and followed by the additional meeting with dialogue partners, known as the ASEAN+3 on Sunday.

The meeting has provided additional key inputs by building on the progress of existing cooperation and set the future direction to accelerate integration and jointly address agriculture and forestry issues.

In addition to the ministers among the ASEAN, this meeting also provided a rare opportunity for leaders of the ASEAN and ASEAN+3 to exchange dialogue to fast-track socio-economic development in each country during their meeting on Sunday.

The ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and its plus three includes China, South Korea and Japan.

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