Senior officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) have gathered in Brussels for their 23rd Senior Officials' Meeting to review the two sides’ enhanced partnership and discuss future direction.

The July 2 meeting noted with satisfaction the progress achieved in ASEAN-EU relations and shared willingness to work towards a strategic partnership embracing all aspects of mutual interest, including those underpinned by political and security cooperation.

In this connection, ASEAN welcomed the EU’s interest in furthering engagement with the region through all ASEAN-led processes.

The meeting agreed there should be mechanisms to intensify the follow-up work towards an ASEAN-EU strategic partnership and welcomed Thailand's offer, as incoming country coordinator for relations with the EU, to take this forward.

Particular emphasis was placed on topics of mutual interest for ASEAN and the EU to work together, such as maritime security, cooperation on trans-national crime and counter-terrorism, connectivity, business, trade and investment, enhanced capacity on mediation and reconciliation, climate change, environment and disaster management.

ASEAN and the EU also devoted special attention to the challenge of irregular migration, trafficking in human beings and the need for comprehensive regional responses, including those related to tackling the root causes, and in providing assistance and protection to those in need.

The meeting shared positive views on increasingly close trade and investment relations between ASEAN and the EU and continued engagement in this respect.

Both sides shared positive views on the industry's active role and engagement in bilateral cooperation as a way to deliver the objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Reaffirming the commitment by ASEAN and EU ministers at the 20th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM), the Meeting underlined the prospects of closer cooperation on environment and climate change, at a time when both sides prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) to take place in Paris in this December and the forthcoming approval by the United Nations General Assembly of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

The EU reiterated its support for ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture and expressed its appreciation for ASEAN's important contribution to promoting dialogue and cooperation for peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.-VNA