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Joint Communique

1. At the invitation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, the 6th Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on January 7-10, 1998.

2. The Meeting was attended by 101 parliamentarians from 23 regular member countries of the APPF and two observer countries. The list of participants appears as Annex I.

3. The Opening Ceremony of the 6th Annual Meeting was held on January 7, 1998. Delegates, accompanying persons and invited guests heard remarks from: the Honorable Yoo Heung Soo, President of the APPF Republic of Korea Group; His Excellency Yasuhiro Nakasone, President of the APPF;

His Excellency Kim Soo Han, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea; and His Excellency Koh Kun, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea.

4. An Executive Committee meeting was held on January 7, 1997. His Excellency Yasuhiro Nakasone, Chairman of the Executive Committee, reported on the following items: 1) a recommendation to admit Colombia as an observer of the 6th Annual Meeting and as a regular member at the next Annual Meeting; 2) a recommendation to set a moratorium on the admission of new APPF member countries, at least until the next century; and 3) a recommendation to limit the number of draft resolutions submitted by each delegation to three, in principle. The Meeting approved these recommendations.

5. The Honorable Yoo Heung Soo, Member of the Korean National Assembly and President of the APPF Korean Group, was elected Chairman of the 6th Annual Meeting. The Honorable Kim Sang Woo, Member of the Korean National Assembly, was elected Deputy Chairman.

6. Following a report by Malaysia on the 4th ASEAN Regional Forum, the Meeting agreed that the ARF has developed into an important forum for multilateral security dialogue and cooperation in the region and that it has played a positive role in enhancing mutual understanding and trust among the regional countries and in strengthening their commitments to establish peace and stability for the region.

7. The Meeting acknowledged, after a report by Japan, that the recently revised Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation were an important bilateral accord for the security of the region. However, some member countries expressed their concern for the possibility of its affecting the sovereignty of third nations and emphasized the need to increase its transparency.

8. Following a report by the Republic of Korea, the Meeting welcomed the opening of the four-party peace talks and agreed that it is an important first step to thawing the ice between the two Koreas and establishing a new peace order on the Korean peninsula and the entire Northeast Asian region.

9. After a report by Thailand, as the representative of the ASEAN Mediating Group on Cambodia, the Meeting expressed its concern for the current situation in Cambodia and reaffirmed its hope for the prompt return of the country to normalcy. ASEAN member countries, in particular, expressed their readiness to extend assistance to Cambodia for the general election to be held in the country in July 1998.

10. In its report on the APEC Vancouver Meeting, Canada emphasized the need to create a more cooperative relationship between the APPF and APEC and proposed, to this end, to form a working group within the Forum, which is subject to further discussions by member countries.

11. A particular emphasis was placed on the discussion of the stabilization of capital and financial markets in the region as several member countries are currently undergoing financial and currency crises. The Meeting, after hearing a report by Thailand, recognized that the current crises are caused by, among other things, weakening domestic financial institutions and deteriorating current account balances. The Meeting called for healthy macroeconomic policies and structural policies and measures to strengthen the financial sector and improve Transparency. The Meeting further called on the regional countries and international monetary institutions to undertake the following measures based on the New Framework for Enhanced Asian Regional Cooperation to Promote Financial Stability agreed at the Manila Meeting of Finance and Central Bank Deputies:

enhance regional surveillance;strengthen economic and technical cooperation;reinforce the IMF's capacity to respond to financial crises;support the proposed cooperative financing arrangements that would supplement IMF resources if necessary.12. With regard to the environmental issues of the region, the Meeting, following a report by Japan, expressed its concern for global warming and climate change, particularly in the Pacific island nations, and the threat that rising sea levels posed to low lying atolls and coastal regions. In this connection, it acknowledged the importance of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Further, following a report by Peru, the Meeting expressed concern at the global nature of the recurrent oceanic-atmospheric phenomenon of El Ni o which affects so large an area in the Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asia, and stressed its commitment to increasing international cooperation in dealing with the consequences.

13. The Meeting expressed its alarm at the magnitude of drug abuse, illicit cultivation, production and trafficking in narcotic substances, which affect the welfare of millions of persons, particularly the youth of today in all countries of the region. Accordingly, the meeting resolved to call on APPF parliaments to strengthen law enforcement structures and capabilities in combatting the illicit production, distribution and use of drugs and the laundering of proceeds, and to work for the prevention of drug abuse.

14. The Meeting emphasized that terrorism in all its forms remains a major challenge for the international community and resolved to call upon all countries to observe conventions covering various aspects of terrorism and to develop further cooperative measures aimed at detecting, preventing and effectively responding to acts of terrorism.

15. On the issue of corruption, the Meeting noted that this problem has become a widespread phenomenon in business transactions, raising serious moral and political concerns and distorting international competitive conditions, and encouraged the member countries to take concrete steps to set up effective monitoring systems, such as those in the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Government Officials in International Business Transactions.

16. The Meeting recognized the achievement of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction signed in Ottawa in December 1997 and called for progress to be made toward the goals of the Convention.

17. On the issue of education, the Meeting expressed the view that in this rapidly shrinking world, it is necessary to prepare our peoples to meet the challenges of the future through improving the standards and quality of education. The Meeting called on APPF member countries to strengthen youth education with particular emphasis on exchange programs, joint research projects, improved curricula, and the use of learning technology so that young people can think and act as members of the world community in the 21st century.

18. With regard to human resources and culture, the Meeting agreed that the creative potential in the Asia-Pacific region has not been fully tapped and that there is a need for skilled and well-trained human resources to enhance socio-economic development. It, therefore, called upon the governments of the APPF member countries to develop highly skilled workforces that can respond to changing demands. In the cultural aspect, the Meeting stressed the need to establish exchange programs to study different cultures of the Asia-Pacific region, and welcomed the proposal made by Japan to hold the Asia-Pacific Art and Cultural Festival beginning in the year 2000, which is to be discussed in detail as to its modality, timing and venue at the next Executive Committee Meeting in Lima, Peru, in September 1998.

19. The Meeting recognized that APPF parliamentarians need to be equipped with high-quality and timely information to facilitate exchanges and collaboration among parliaments and interested parties. Following a report and live Internet presentation by Peru, the Meeting approved the establishment and operation of the APPF Homepage Website by the Peruvian Parliament and the formation of the Technology Working Committee within the APPF to undertake the task of developing the Asia-Pacific Open Information Network, encouraging the development of the APPF sub-regional information system to promote information exchanges.

20. The issue of electronic commerce was discussed by the Meeting. Noting that the electronic market is emerging as a new form of world market, the Meeting emphasized that electronic commerce should be pursued by the private sector based on free market principles with minimum government interference. The Meeting resolved that further discussions of international rules on electronic commerce and other related issues should be held to enable all countries to reap the benefits of electronic commerce.

21. The 6th Annual Meeting adopted the following resolutions attached herewith as Annex II:

22. The Meeting approved the proposal made by the Chairman of the Executive Committee on the membership of the Executive Committee and their term of office. This proposal is attached as Annex III.

23. The Meeting had a constructive discussion on Myanmar.

24. The Meeting accepted the offers by the Peruvian delegation to be the host of the 7th Annual Meeting in 1999 and by the Australian delegation to host the 8th Annual Meeting in the year 2000.

25. The Meeting expressed its deep appreciation to the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea for the excellent administrative arrangements made for the 6th Annual Meeting of the APPF and for the generous and warm hospitality extended to delegates and accompanying persons.

26. The Meeting expressed its appreciation to the Korean Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the 6th Annual Meeting for the excellent conduct of the Plenary Sessions.

Adopted on Saturday, January 10, 1998 in Seoul, the Republic of Korea.