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Southeast Asia to Step Up Fight Against Terrorism - 2002-04-19

Southeast Asian countries will step up cooperation in fighting terrorism. Officials from around the world have been studying ways to prevent terror attacks.

Conference participants say they will push for the passage of new laws in their countries to fight terrorism. In addition, Southeast Asian nations said they will issue an action plan on terrorism later this year.

The plan's details are expected to be released during the July meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the ASEAN Regional Forum. The forum, known as ARF, focuses on regional security and economics.

About 30 countries gathered in Bangkok this week to examine counter-terrorism initiatives.

Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai said the group discussed closer cooperation in the fight. He dismissed the view of some people that Southeast Asia has been lax in dealing with the threat.

"I think we are not complacent at all. We are very committed, which I am very glad [about]. First of all there was the ASEAN retreat in February, and secondly we discussed this issue very openly and that we even came out and each of us said that we had a political resolve to work together in this particular issue," Mr. Surakiat said.

The workshop has been part of a series of meetings to respond to the threat of terrorist activities since the September 11 attacks in the United States.

The issues discussed included sharing intelligence on terror suspects and more cooperation on border controls.

Officials said countries need to build up legal institutions and train personnel to counter terrorism.

Ideas from this week's conference will be raised at an ASEAN ministerial meeting on transnational crime in Kuala Lumpur next month.