TIRANA (AP) – Senior economic officials and experts from 18 Central and Southeast European countries met yesterday in Albania’s capital to discuss regional cooperation and promotion of business links. The two-day meeting of the Central European Initiative, or CEI – created 17 years ago to bring the region’s countries closer to the European Union – gathered together about 800 business leaders and officials from participating countries to build alliances and trade relations, a statement said. «The event will focus on reforms and investments for stimulating business development, with particular attention to infrastructure, finance, investments, innovation for competitiveness, entrepreneurship, regional integration and trade promotion,» the statement said. Seven CEI member states are EU members, and Bulgaria and Romania will join next year. West Balkan countries are either in the initial integration steps or waiting to launch them. The economic forum meeting will be followed by the annual prime ministers’ summit tomorrow.