PHNOM PENH, July 11 (Xinhua) -- ASEAN foreign ministers on Wednesday expressed their welcome to the European Union (EU) for its accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), according to a joint statement issued after the ASEAN- EU Post-Ministerial Conference.
The conference, held at Phnom Penh's Peace Palace, was co- chaired by Pehin Lim Jock Seng, foreign minister of Brunei, and Catherine Ashton, high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy and the EU's vice president, was attended by all ASEAN foreign ministers.
"The FMs welcomed the EU's accession to the TAC, which serves as a key instrument in governing inter-state relations and contributing to peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region," said the statement.
The ministers hailed the growing volume of trade and investment between the two regions, saying that ASEAN looks forward to further enhancing this relationship through deepening dialogue and consultations between ASEAN economic ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner, as well as the business communities of both regions.
The meeting also recognized the importance of setting up a free trade area to enhance economic cooperation between both regions, noting the EU's on-going FTA negotiations with individual ASEAN member states are important "building blocks" of a region-to- region FTA.
Besides, the meeting expressed appreciation for the EU's commitment to assist in strengthening the capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat, and welcomed EU's initiative to enhance cooperation in human resource capacity building of the ASEAN Secretariat.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.