EAS Statement on the ROK Hostages in Afghanistan

Manila, 31 July 2007

The Foreign Ministers of the participating states of the East Asia Summit exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan and expressed deep concern over the recent sad turn of events concerning the abduction of innocent citizens of the Republic of Korea.

The Foreign Ministers expressed their deepest sympathy to the bereaved families, people, and government of the Republic of Korea for the unjustifiable killing of two Korean citizens. For humanitarian reasons, they issued an appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of the remaining hostages to enable them to reunite with their loved ones.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a regional Leaders’ forum for strategic dialogue and action on key challenges facing the East Asian region. The EAS is a significant regional grouping with an important role to play in advancing closer regional integration and cooperation, at a time of particular dynamism in East Asia.Australia participated, as a founding member, in the inaugural EAS held in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 2005.

Membership of the EAS comprises the ten ASEAN countries, Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea. The 16 member countries represent collectively 49 per cent of the world’s population, account for 36 per cent of global GDP, and receive nearly 60 per cent of Australia’s total exports.

The centrepiece of the EAS year is an annual Leaders’ Summit held back-to-back with the annual ASEAN Summits. In addition, a number of ministerial and senior officials’ meetings are held during the year to progress Leaders’ initiatives.

The third EAS was held on 21 November 2007 in Singapore. The fourth EAS will be held in Thailand in late 2008.