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The inaugural plenary meeting of the East Asia Forum was held on 14-16 December 2003, in Seoul, Korea, with the theme ‘Peace, Prosperity, and Progress in East Asia: Challenges and New Visions’. The forum was hosted by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, jointly coordinated by the Korean International Trade Association and Yonsei University, and sponsored by the Korea International Cooperation Agency. About 300 participants and guests were in attendance, including esteemed representatives of government, academic, and business circles from ten ASEAN countries plus China, Japan, and Korea and the ASEAN Secretariat. During the forum, the keynote speaker, President Roh Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea, emphasized the importance of ‘narrowing the development gap in the region, institutionalizing intra-regional cooperation and making joint efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.’
 
The establishment of the East Asia Forum (EAF) signified the realization of one of recommendations by the East Asia Study Group (EASG). The participants expect the EAF to develop into a valuable and comprehensive platform for promoting regional cooperation.