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Heads of states at the recently-concluded Sixth Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem6) in Helsinki promised that the grouping would act as "a multi-dimensional dialogue" for "co-operation on political, economic, social, cultural and educational issues."

They also promised that Asem would promote focused co-operative initiatives linked to policy dialogue on topical priority issues, initiatives "that may involve relevant stakeholders, including the social partners and civil society".

In spite of such proclamations, and judging from Asem's 10-year track record, non-governmental organisations are more convinced than ever that big business will continue to dominate and drive the 38-member bloc formed in 1996.

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