Asia looks to ‘lead world’ with EU-style bloc

HUA HIN, October 24, 2009 (AFP) – Asian leaders discussed plans at a summit Saturday to “lead the world” by forming an EU-style community, as regional giants China and India tried to cool a simmering border spat. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama pressed his regional counterparts to move towards the creation of an East Asian bloc and to take advantage of the region’s more rapid recovery from the global recession compared to the West.

“It would be meaningful for us to have the aspiration that East Asia is going to lead the world,” Hatoyama, who outlined proposals for the bloc after taking office last month, told the Bangkok Post newspaper.

The community would involve the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with regional partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, Japanese officials have said.

But as the Japanese premier outlined his proposals, there was debate at the summit in the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin over whether the grouping would also include the United States.

Hatoyama said Tokyo’s alliance with Washington was the “cornerstone” of Japanese policy but urged the region to “try to reduce as much as possible the gaps, the disparit