At Thailand's initiative, Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) was successfully launched in Cha-Am, Thailand on 18-19 June 2002. The participants at the inauguration of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue consist of 17 ministers from Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.

The Dialogue will serve as a confidence-building process for Asian nations, a confidence that is built upon the Spirit of Bandung initiated by Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and a confidence that is based upon Prime Minister Koizumi's goal to create " a community that acts together and advances together." The Dialogue will also serve as a bridge between all sub-regional groupings spanning South, West, Southeast and Northeast Asia, an idea which was given impetus at the First International Conference of Asian Political Parties held in Manila in 1999.

It was in Cha-Am, a tranquil sea resort on the Gulf of Thailand, where this long-standing ideal has been materialized. It was the first time ever that key Asian nations agreed that they need to build unity among Asian countries and forge a substantive and meaningful platform for the continent by creating Asia wide strategic partnership for cooperation so as to make Asia a stronger partner for other regions.

The process of ACD is informal, top-down, evolving and non-institutionalized. Characterized by its positive thinking, ACD is open, broad-based, and inclusive and belongs to all Asian countries. The ACD ministers firmly believe that the world will benefit as ACD grows and prospers.

The participating ministers felt that the core value of the ACD is its dialogue. However, it is vital to strike a proper balance between dialogue and projects components. The ACD should be results-oriented in order to move forward. A number of ACD countries have expressed interest or volunteered to become "prime movers" in the area of cooperation that best match their expertise and interests. For example, Singapore has suggested in taking a lead in the area of SMEs; Bangladesh, Cambodia in poverty alleviation; Malaysia in e-commerce and infrastructure tax; Indonesia in energy security; South Korea in IT development; Pakistan in e-government, e-commerce and Institute of Standards; and Thailand in tourism. Duplication of efforts, which are being made at other existing regional cooperation, must be avoided.

As ACD coordinator from June 2002 to June 2003, Thailand has actively and continuously engaged every ACD country to collectively promote and further strengthen ACD process. Several ACD inter-sessional and follow-up meetings have followed the ministerial Dialogue in June. Thai ACD Teams of senior representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have visited ACD capitals to continue consultation with their ACD counterparts on the questions of prime movers and future geographical coverage of ACD.

Until the second ACD ministerial meeting in Chiang Mai, north of Thailand in June 2003, Thailand hopes that ACD will have reached new heights by inviting more countries in Asia to join the ACD nations at the forefront of Asian cooperation.

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