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Mahathir: Asia Must Seek Equality With NAFTA, EU

June 9, 2000

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said here Friday that Asia should assert itself and adopt independent policies in order to seek an equal partnership with the European Union and signatories to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mahathir made the comment at the annual International Conference on the Future of Asia hosted by Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc.

The Malaysian prime minister also reiterated that his country's economy owes its recovery to the introduction of restrictions on flows of short-term capital and a shift to a fixed foreign-exchange system.

Mahathir also said that the U.S. and European nations should not force their political, economic and social values on other countries, adding that Asian nations should not blindly embrace new ideas. He urged Asia to draw on its unique experiences and strengths to become equal partners to the U.S. and Europe so that both Asia and the rest of the world can prosper in the next century.

Sisavath Keobounphanh, the prime minister of Laos, who also attended the conference, said that if East Asia is to play a greater role in the world, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and developed countries should work on bridging the gap between rich and poor countries in the region.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Saturday morning edition)

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.