Centre to bolster Asia cultural ties
Manama, November 27, 2013
By Sandeep Singh Grewal
A research centre is to be set up in Bahrain to strengthen cultural links between the Gulf and a trade bloc of 10 up-and-coming Asian countries.
It will act as a source of information for policy-makers and help the region improve co-operation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Its members are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar.
Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa announced the plan during a press conference at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.
It was one of the outcomes of the third GCC-Asean ministerial meeting that concluded yesterday.
"The GCC-Asean officials discussed setting up a research centre in Bahrain to help both the regions and this will benefit everyone," said Shaikh Khalid.
"It is now in the early stages, but the idea will be crystallised before the end of next year."
Shaikh Khalid said GCC and Asean states were looking to build economic partnerships and improve integration in cultural, educational and social fields.
"During the meeting, there were also agreements on studying the issue of food and energy security, which is a matter of concern," he said.
"We are keen to build a commercial solid base and frameworks for different agreements including free trade agreements with these countries.
"It was also decided in the meeting that Bahrain will be the main co-coordinator with Asean and work closely on future strategies, which is in line with the vision of our leadership."
The first ministerial GCC-Asean meeting was held in Manama in 2009, while another took place in Singapore in 2010.
"We are glad the third meeting has taken place in Bahrain and participants have agreed that the next meeting will be held in Myanmar before the end of next year," said Shaikh Khalid.
Meanwhile, he reiterated Bahrain's stance in welcoming the interim agreement between the P5+1 countries - the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany - and Iran, regarding curbing its controversial nuclear programme.
"It is important no matter what to keep the Middle East, especially the Arabian Gulf, free of nuclear weapons," he added. "This preliminary agreement will lead to an end to conflict and help achieve international peace and security." - TradeArabia News Service