U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is continuing a whirlwind tour through Southeast Asia, shoring up the region's support for the war on terror ahead of this week's two-day security forum in Brunei.

Mr. Powell was in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, early Tuesday morning to thank the country's long-serving Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Since the September terrorist attacks in the United States, Malaysian officials have apprehended dozens of suspected Islamic militants with alleged ties to the al-Qaida network and shared valuable intelligence with the United States.

The secretary of state will also convey Washington's gratitude to Singapore Tuesday. Last December, Singaporean authorities arrested 15 men, believed to have been plotting the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.

The highlight of Mr. Powell's trip will be his visit to Brunei Wednesday and Thursday, where he will be joined by nearly two dozen foreign ministers from Pacific rim countries and the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations, known as ASEAN.

In Brunei, ASEAN and the United States are expected to sign a joint declaration for cooperation to combat international terrorism and could lead to greater U.S. logistical assistance against militant groups in the region.