ASEAN and Africa Union have agreed to step up bilateral cooperation in a number of fields, said the ASEAN Secretariat in a press release issued on May 3.

The consensus was reached during a recent meeting between the Secretary General of ASEAN, Surin Pitsuwan and Maxwell M. Mkwezalamba, Head of the African Union Commission’s (AUC) delegation to the second Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy (IRDD) in Jakarta , Indonesia .

According to the press release, the two leaders discussed ways of creating successful regional communities, regional economic integration, political and security cooperation and development cooperation as well as addressing the challenges faced by both blocs.

Mkwezalamba applauded ASEAN’s efforts to create a community by 2015 and was full of praise for the economic achievements ASEAN member countries have made.

The ASEAN Secretary General recalled the synergy between Asia and Africa , which was first recognised at the Bandung Conference in 1955, and subsequent senior-level meetings as well as efforts to forge closer ties and cooperation between the two continents. These include the First Asian-African Sub-Regional Organisations Conference (AASROC) held in April 2003 in Bandung , Indonesia and the second AASROC held in South Africa in August 2004.

Both underlined the significance of the Asia-Africa Summit and the Golden Jubilee Celebrations for the Asia-Africa Conference 1955 by referring to the adoption of the Declaration on the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership.

The declaration emphasises the need to encourage more cooperation between the two continents in trade, industry, investment, tourism, information and communications technology, energy security, transportation, agriculture, water resources and fisheries.-VNA