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Singapore Discusses Anti-Terrorism Efforts With Indonesia - 2002-12-16

Singapore's Prime Minister is in Indonesia discussing efforts to combat terrorism with President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Goh Chok Tong is the first Asian head of state to visit Indonesia since the terrorist attack on the island of Bali two months ago.

Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said terrorism remains a grave threat across Southeast Asia. "The terrorist network is quite extensive," he said. "There are many cells, we have caught some of them in Singapore and Indonesia but there are still many left outside."

The governments of Singapore and neighboring Malaysia have arrested scores of suspected extremists to clamp down on regional terrorist groups. Both governments have been critical of Indonesia for failing to arrest suspects they say were hiding within its borders.

Indonesia may have learned its lesson the hard way. Nearly 200 people died on October 12 when two bombs were detonated on a busy tourist strip on the island of Bali. Indonesian officials described the incident as the worst terrorist attack in the country's history.

Prime Minister Goh said he and President Megawati discussed ways to handle what many perceive to be Southeast Asia's worst terrorist threat - the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. "So we discussed cooperative measures in order to root out the terrorist infrastructure in this part of the world," he said. "We are aware that Jemaah Islamiyah is the Southeast Asian wing of al-Qaida."

Washington agrees that Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaida work hand in hand. JI, as it is known, uses violence as part of its campaign to create an Islamic state across Southeast Asia. Indonesian authorities have arrested a handful of suspects they say are linked to JI in their investigation into the Bali bomb incident, but they have not officially declared the bombing a JI plot. Prime Minister Goh made his comments following a meeting with President Megawati at a presidential palace in the town of Bogor, 60 kilometers south of the capital Jakarta. The prime minister is in Indonesia for a two-day visit.