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No Asean haven for terrorism

JAKARTA, Indonesia (via PLDT)—Saying Southeast Asia should not be a safe haven for terrorists, Indonesia and the Philippines on Tuesday pledged to boost cooperation in the fight against terror during the first visit here of President Benigno Aquino III.

Mr. Aquino and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding that would improve intelligence-gathering and -sharing as well as training of security forces, and joint air and sea patrols.

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Mr. Aquino is in Jakarta on the first of leg of a two-nation tour of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) allies this week. On Wednesday, Mr. Aquino flies to Singapore.

At a joint press conference, Yudhoyono said the two countries have agreed to hasten negotiations on delineating maritime boundaries to tackle “real and concrete” terrorism threats they both face.

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“Terrorism has national, regional and global networks. In Southeast Asia, terrorists and their leaders have high mobility,” he said.

“There must not be in Southeast Asia what is called a safe haven for terrorism,” he said.

The Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a regional terror group with links to the international al-Qaida terror network, is active in both the Philippines and Indonesia.

The JI, which has carried out a string of deadly bombings in Bali and Jakarta in the past decade, has members that reportedly trained in central Mindanao.

The group has also allied itself with the Abu Sayyaf bandit group in Sulu and is believed to have been involved in several bombings in Mindanao.

Mr. Aquino said that while intelligence and training exchanges between the security forces of the Philippines and Indonesia are ongoing, it would be “criminal on the part of governments of countries to which terrorists are inflicting harm” not to explore all avenues to stop terrorists crossing borders.

“If we are to treat them as isolated incidents, we are in effect strengthening their capacities to go in and out and inflict harm on different peoples,” he said.

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He said that once maritime boundaries are delineated, the prevention of migrating terror networks from inflicting harm on the people of the two countries would be enhanced.

Yudhoyono said the Southeast Asian region should not be a safe haven not just for terrorists but also for “corrupters” and those involved in other transnational crimes that include illegal fishing, human trafficking, piracy, banking offenses and international economic crimes.

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TAGS: Acts of terror, Asean, Benigno Aquino III, Diplomacy, Foreign affairs & international relations
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