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US FBI Chief Holds Discusses Terrorism, Crime With Thai Officials - 2002-03-17

In Thailand, the top U.S. police official says Washington will expand cooperation with Thai security agencies to include training against terrorism and international crime.

FBI Director Robert Mueller says cooperation with the Thai government since the September terror attacks on the United States has been "unmatched."

The U.S. official spoke to reporters in Bangkok after meeting Sunday with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr. Mueller noted that the FBI is already training Thai security forces in the war on drugs. He said the bureau has agreed to add training in the fight against terrorism and transnational crimes.

Mr. Mueller has been touring Southeast Asia to strengthen security cooperation in a region marked by many separatist rebellions, some which have been linked to the al-Qaida terrorist group. In Indonesia Saturday, he expressed support for the Indonesian government's pledge that it will fight terrorism in the predominantly Muslim nation, but will use its own methods.

The FBI director arrived in Thailand Sunday after visits to New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

On Monday he is due to meet senior officials in the Philippines, which has been one of the staunchest supporters of the U.S. led war against terrorism.

More than 600 U.S. troops are in the southern Philippines to equip and train soldiers that are pursuing Abu Sayyaf rebels who have been linked to the al-Qaida group. Clashes were reported on two islands in recent days in which several Philippine soldiers were wounded.

They follow the arrest last week of two alleged Abu Sayyaf members.