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East Asia economic union urged

  |   April 1, 2007 at 7:40 AM
FUKUOKA, Japan, April 1 (UPI) -- Former leaders of five East Asia nations had a rare reunion in Japan and urged the formation of an economic alliance to promote their common interests.

Former Prime Minister Yashurio read the proposal Saturday at the conclusion of the meeting in Fukuoka that included former South Korea Prime Minister Kim Jong Pil, former Thailand Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, former Philippines President Fidel Ramos and former Indonesia President Megawati Soekamoputri, the Yomiuri Shinbum reported Sunday.

"To promote East Asia's regional economic development and economic integration, we should establish a regional organization for economic partnership founded on an ever-denser network of bilateral and multilateral free-trade agreements and economic partnership agreements," Nakasone said.

The group said that while that the formation of an East Asian trade bloc wouldn't be easily or quickly accomplished, it could happen if the nations have the political will.

"The formation of the East Asia Community is our shared idea for the future that we should nurture together," they said in their closing remarks.

The former leaders also presented their views on political and economic issues such as North Korea's nuclear program, environmental degradation, prevention of infectious diseases and measures to cope with natural disasters.

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