Spain promotes self as ‘bridge’ between continents at Mongolia summit

José Manuel García-Margallo is keen to up Spain's presence in Asia, on the back of increased economic activity. [Bundesministerium für Europa/Flickr]

At the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Mongolia, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo outlined the role of his country as a “bridge” between Asia and Latin America. EURACTIV Spain reports.

The event, held in the East Asian country’s capital of Ulaanbaatar, was attended by  representatives from 51 countries.

The summit began with a minute’s silence to commemorate the Nice attacks, carried out on Bastille Day.

Spain’s foreign affairs chief, García-Margallo, then met with his French counterpart, Jean Marc Ayrault, to express the Iberian nation’s condolences and pledge its support in the fight against terror.

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In addition to bilateral talks with India, New Zealand, Singapore, Norway and Mongolia, García-Margallo also highlighted Spain’s involvement in the political landscape, through its strategic associations and political dialogues with numerous Asian countries, with the aim of strengthening its diplomatic presence in the region.

From an economic point of view, he referred to increased efforts to promote the Silk Road, Spain’s membership of the Asian Bank and the recently-established Yixin’ou rail-cargo line, which connects Spain to China, and has led to cheaper imports.

The rail link has already started to bear fruit, as Spanish exports to China increased by 8.8% in 2015.

García-Magallo also outlined the Latin-American factor of the country’s Asia-Pacific relationship and its role as an observer of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc.

In addition to saying that the Asia-Pacific link should intensify over time, the foreign minister also indicated that he has promoted Spain as a “bridge” between Asia and Latin America, during talks with countries like China, Japan and Korea.

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“Latin America is a continent that increasingly looks to the Pacific,” he said.

The summit is the most important international event to be held in recent history in Mongolia.

Ten presidents, 20 prime ministers, two vice-presidents and two foreign ministers attended, as well as notable European Union officials, like Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Federica Mogherini.

García-Margallo also spoke about connectivity, one of the main themes of the summit, insisting that “there will be no full globalisation without a real physical restructuring of the great continent of Eurasia”, adding that these plans can lead to a “more integrated political, social and economic space”.

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