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Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Asian, Pacific leaders ink energy accord at summit

COMMON GOALS The officials committed to improving energy efficiency and developing biofuels, as well as promoting private investment in regional infrastructure


Asian and Pacific leaders yesterday signed an agreement to help reduce their dependence on conventional sources of energy while promoting the use of biofuels.

The Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security was signed by leaders from Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, China and South Korea after a three-hour summit in the central Philippine city of Cebu.

The agreement lists a set of goals for "reliable, adequate and affordable" energy supplies essential for sustaining economic growth and competitiveness.

The East Asia conclave came two days after the 10-member ASEAN completed its annual summit in Cebu, vowing to strengthen political solidarity, fight terrorism and create a free trade zone by 2015.

The ASEAN leaders and their counterparts from six Asian economic powerhouses also pledged to pursue investments in regional infrastructure through greater private sector involvement.

The declaration calls for moves to improve energy efficiency and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, while urging countries to expand renewable energy systems and biofuel production and "for interested parties, civilian nuclear power."

The accord also calls for mitigating greenhouse gas emission and ensuring a stable supply of energy "through investments in regional infrastructure such as the ASEAN power grid and the trans-ASEAN gas pipeline."

The leaders also agreed to explore strategic fuel stockpiling to reduce their dependence on oil imports, according to the document.

China has been seeking greater influence over key energy markets while striving to alleviate worries over its huge and growing appetite for oil.

Securing energy

"China attaches great importance to energy security and energy cooperation,'" Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) said in a speech to the summit, adding that his nation "will continue to rely on itself to meet its energy need and priority will be given to raising energy efficiency."

He said there needed to be stronger dialogue on energy security as well as increased conservation and research on clean and alternative sources.

A statement on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program was expected to be issued later yesterday.

A draft copy of the statement says the leaders expressed concern over North Korea's nuclear test and urged Pyongyang to desist from further tests and "take concrete and effective steps" to implement a 2005 agreement in which it pledged to disarm in exchange for security guarantees and aid.

They also will emphasize support for the so-called six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program "and reaffirmed conviction that the talks should result in more tangible progress in addressing outstanding issues."

Earlier yesterday, Wen told reporters that countries involved in international talks on North Korea must renew efforts to overcome differences and resolve the issue.

Abduction issue

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was expected to raise the alleged abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea during the summit, but some leaders wanted a broader discussion on humanitarian concerns without specifically mentioning the emotional issue, ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong said.

"We want to talk about a broader subject called `humanitarian concern' which includes abduction, but the Japanese think that the abduction should be highlighted" in the statement, Ong told reporters before the summit opened.

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