U.S.  URGES  ASEAN  TO  BE  SELF-SUFFICIENT  IN  ENERGY

WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 9, 2006
(STAR) By Jose Katigbak, STAR Washington Bureau - The chairman of the US Senate committee on foreign relations, Sen. Richard Lugar, urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to forge consensus on a regional long-term energy security plan with the ultimate goal of energy self-sufficiency if it wanted to become a truly ASEAN Security, Economic and Socio-Cultural Community.

In a letter Wednesday to Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, a copy of which was released to The STAR, Lugar said the challenge of energy security for ASEAN could not have been envisioned when founding members Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand formed the grouping in 1967.

The challenge of energy security is not unique to ASEAN, Lugar said in reply to a letter Romulo sent him on Nov. 21.

"Whether nations prosper or falter, and whether they experience peace or conflict, will be affected by the ability of their leaders to provide innovative and exemplary leadership on this crucial issue," Lugar said.

Romulo wrote the US senator to brief him on the Philippine initiative on ASEAN energy security on the eve of the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu City with leaders of the region including China and Japan.

In his letter Romulo said the Philippines had several goals and objectives in mind which would be discussed at the Cebu summit.

Among them were reduced dependence on conventional fuels through the expansion of renewable energy systems and biofuel production, possible fuel stockpiling through multi-country and/or regional arrangements and the recycling of petrodollars and windfall profits for equity investments and long-term low interest loan facilities for oil-important countries.

The Philippines will also push for a stable energy supply through investments in regional energy infrastructure such as the ASEAN Power Grid and the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline.

"Hopefully, a consensus can be reached (at the Cebu summit) on these goals and objectives that could serve as basis for concrete programs," Romulo told Lugar.

Lugar thanked Romulo for "the important leadership you are providing."

Describing the Philippine goals and objectives as comprehensive, Lugar said "I trust they will be carefully reviewed by ASEAN leaders."

"Attaining energy security requires a comprehensive and thoughtful long-term approach involving cooperation on an international scale," he added.

In addition to the six original members, the ASEAN grouping now also includes Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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