The First New Asian African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), the first step of the NAASP

South Africa is hosting the first NAASP SOM together with co-chair, Indonesia from 1-3 September 2006 in Durban, South Africa. The NAASP has a history dating back to the 1955 Asian African Conference (popularly referred to as the Bandung Conference) held in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Bandung Conference brought together in solidarity the newly independent counties of Asia and Africa to discuss a wide range of issues. The Bandung Conference is sometimes considered to be the initial stage of the Third World movement of newly independent countries that sought to transcend their colonial histories by using the state as a means to freedom, self-determination and modernization that would unite it's inhabitance and carry them forward to development.

Following the historic Asian-African Conference in Bandung in 1955, the world has witnessed the emergence of new nations in the two continents and the birth of a sense of kinship and solidarity between them. This "Bandung Spirit", brought about by the Conference, subsequently became the underlying inspiration for these new nations to continue to strive towards the attainment of a just, peaceful, progressive and prosperous world order.

Fifty years since that momentous period, the world has yet again witnessed profound changes that have left many countries in Asia and Africa lagging behind in their economic and social development, thus marginalizing a majority of them from benefiting from the opportunities offered by globalization.

It is with the intention to rekindle the "Bandung Spirit" through enhancing the cooperation between the countries in Asia and Africa that Indonesia and South Africa hosted the First Asian-African Sub Regional Organisations Conference (AASROC I) and the Second AASROC (AASROCII), respectively in Bandung, Indonesia, on 29 -30 July 2003 and in Durban South Africa, on 19-20 August 2004.

These events were important venues in preparation for the Asian-African Summit in Indonesia on 21-23 April 2005, which was held in conjunction with the Commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of the 1955 Asian-African Conference. The theme of the Summit, "Reinvigorating the Bandung Spirit: Working Towards a New Asian-African Strategic Partnership" aptly marked the dawn of a new cooperation among the countries of the two continents, as we strive towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.

The NAASP was formally adopted at the 2005 Asian African Summit and a NAASP work-plan was derived from studies that were made in preparation for the Summit, as well as statements that were made at the Summit itself. The main objectives of the first NAASP SOM are to allocate Champion countries to each of the projects or initiatives within the NAASP framework, to facilitate the implementation process, to ensure speedy results and to prepare for the NAASP Ministerial envisaged.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa