Dialogue, education key to promote religious tolerance
By Azaraimy

Cooperation and collaboration among APEC members as well as promoting respect and tolerance towards different cultures through dialogue and education would play a part in promoting regional growth, stability and development, said His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a titah at the APEC Leaders Second Retreat Session in Hanoi yesterday.

Discussions at the session focused on two sub topics: "Fundamentals of Growth and Sustainable Development in APEC from Economic Perspective" and "Fundamentals of Growth and Sustainable Development in APEC from Human Security Perspective".

In his titah, His Majesty said that every APEC member is faced with the challenge of creating growth and sustaining development in a world filled with threats of terrorism, health pandemic and natural disaster.

For Brunei Darussalam, the development of human resources, practising good governance policy and narrowing social and economic disparities had helped achieve economic growth and prosperity.

The same objective however, added His Majesty, could not be achieved without addressing the security and health challenges. In this connection, cooperation and collaboration as well as promoting respect and tolerance towards different cultures through dialogue and education especially for our youth would play a part to promote regional growth, stability and development. This was why His Majesty added, that one of APEC's key responsibility was to continue to build the confidence and capacity of members in these diverse areas.

Immediately after the Second Retreat Session, His Majesty and other APEC leaders attended an official lunch hosted by Nguyen Minh Triet, Vietnam's President.

After the lunch, His Majesty consented to join other APEC leaders for a photo session.

At the end of the session, APEC leaders adopted the Leader's Declaration and the Statement on Doha Development Agenda.

Late afternoon, His Majesty left Hanoi after attending the 14th Apec Leaders Summit.

Before departure, a doa selamat was read by YB Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.

Present at Noi Bai International Airport to bid farewell to His Majesty was Nguyen Thien Nhan, Vietnam's Minister of Education and Training. Also present to bid farewell to His Majesty was Haji Mohd Mahdi Pehin Dato Awang Haji Abdul Rahman, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Vietnam.

The 15th APEC Summit will be held in Australia in 2007.

On Saturday, His Majesty joined the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet; Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark; and Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong at the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4) Leaders' meeting at the Sofitel Metropole Hotel.

Present at the talks were Pehin Dato Awang Hj Yahya, Minister of Energy in the Prime Minister's Office, and Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

During the meeting, the leaders discussed recent developments on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, informally known as the P4 FTA. They welcomed the entry into force of the P4 FTA for all the parties and instructed officials to commence negotiations for the outstanding investment and financial services chapters of the agreement in the latter half of 2007.

Further, the leaders stressed the high quality and comprehensive nature of this agreement.

Noting that P4 FTA was designed to have an open architecture, allowing for the accession of new members, the leaders reiterated their vision of the P4 FTA serving as a building block for trade liberalisation across the Asia-Pacific region. The leaders also noted that the P4 FTA could serve as a stepping stone in our efforts towards regional economic integration.

In addition, the leaders also instructed the development of an evaluation framework to assess the accession applications of those economies that express their interest in joining the agreement.

The P4 FTA was originally known as the P3 FTA when it was first launched by Chile, New Zealand and Singapore at the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico in 2002. The agreement was renamed with Brunei's subsequent participation.

His Majesty Saturday morning also joined leaders from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in a meeting with the President of the United States, George W Bush.

At the meeting, His Majesty in his titah mentioned about the threat of terrorism and nuclear proliferation around the world. His Majesty also mentioned about the need for a peaceful solution to the Middle East situation including Iraq.

On bilateral issues, His Majesty noted with satisfaction the excellent ongoing bilateral relation between the two countries in areas such as education and defence. His Majesty further mentioned one area where experts from both countries could work together that is in area of energy, particularly in resources management and the need to look for alternative sources of energy.

Later in the afternoon, His Majesty and other APEC leaders attended the APEC Leaders Summit at the National Convention Centre.

In his titah at the Summit, His Majesty said a forum like APEC was very important because it provided dynamism and offered confidence especially to the business communities. In this connection, His Majesty said Brunei supported the regional and international trading arrangements such as the WTO, as long as they were comprehensive and supported the multilateral trading system. It was for the same reason that Brunei supported the resumption of the Doha round which offers so much potential for economies, big or small.

His Majesty further said the dynamism brought about in APEC could bring real economic benefits that would contribute to the sustainable development of the APEC economies.

In the evening, His Majesty attended the APEC Leaders Gala Dinner at the Banquet Hall of the National Convention Centre, hosted by the president of Vietnam. - Borneo Bulletin (20th Nov 2006)