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Australia, Thailand Step Up Security Cooperation

  • Ron Corben

Indonesian Special Police patrol at Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Jan. 15, 2016, one day after a series of explosions hit the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

Indonesian Special Police patrol at Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Jan. 15, 2016, one day after a series of explosions hit the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

Australia and Thailand are strengthening anti-terror cooperation amid fears of more attacks in the region by groups associated with Islamic State supporters. The agreement came during an official visit by the Australian Justice Minister and amid concerns over regional security capabilities and coordination.

The move by Australia and Thailand to step up security cooperation comes during what Australia’s Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, calls a deteriorating security situation.

Australia's Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 23, 2016.

Australia's Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 23, 2016.

During a visit to Bangkok for talks with Thai government ministers, Keenan said the increased cooperation is a result of the deadly January 14 attacks in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

“We know we’ve got a big regional challenge," he said. "This is a menace that is stalking Indonesia, it’s certainly stalking Australia, - it's troubling the Philippines and no country in the region is immune from that. This is a challenge we all share together and that’s why cooperation is vitally important.”

Islamic State

Keenan says the increased security cooperation will remain in place as long as Islamic State exists and looks to “export terror across the region, including Australia.”

Australia has already spend more than $700 million to improve security in the country.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, an advisor to the Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, says a regional security cooperation structure came into place after the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that claimed 200 lives.

A police officers stands at the memorial of the 2002 Bali bombing site in Bali, Indonesia, Jan. 15, 2016.

A police officers stands at the memorial of the 2002 Bali bombing site in Bali, Indonesia, Jan. 15, 2016.

But Panitan says shortcomings leave several countries vulnerable to attacks.

“What is still problematic is the capability, the implementation, the enforcement actually, in many areas," said Panitan. "You see clear commitment but lack of capability, lack of coordination, lack of capacity, in many areas and these may create risks or pose risks to an extremist attack in certain countries so that’s the concern.”

Analysts fear a potential escalation in attacks by militants in the year ahead.

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