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Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Terror tops agenda of Asian forum
Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei
Brunei will host the week-long meeting
The United States and South-East Asian countries are reportedly set to sign an anti-terrorism pact when they meet at a major regional security meeting.

Asean members
Indonesia
Thailand
Philippines
Brunei
Cambodia
Laos
Malaysia
Burma
Singapore
Vietnam
The region has played a key role in the US-led war against terror, with scores of arrests made in Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia of suspected Muslim militants.

In return, the US has offered technical and financial aid to Asean (The Association of South-East Asian Nations) to help the group fight terrorism in the region.

Asean foreign ministers are due to hold talks in Brunei from 26 July until 2 August, and will meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell on 31 July.

Swapping intelligence

The security pact will provide for "greater co-operation in intelligence exchange and other joint action to deal with international terrorism," said Malaysia's Foreign Minister, Syed Hamid Albar.

"There is no better way of showing our willingness and seriousness of combating international terrorism than... entering this US-Asean joint declaration."

Other issues to be discussed at the forum include the Korean peninsula, crime, non-proliferation and territorial disputes.

Diplomats have said there is a chance that talks between North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun and his counterparts in South Korea, Japan and the US, may occur on the sidelines of the Asean forum.

Disputed islets

Mischief Reef with Chinese flag flying from it on the Spratlys
The Spratlys are claimed by six different countries
Malaysia is also to propose a "code of conduct" on the disputed Spratly islands to be signed by Asean members at the meeting, officials at the country's foreign ministry told Reuters news agency.

The pact would aim to lower tension between the rival claimants until the issue is resolved, the officials said.

There is speculation that considerable oil and gas reserves lie beneath the collection of about 100 submerged banks, reefs and tiny islets in the South China Sea that make up the Spratlys.

China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim all or part of the archipelago.

See also:

07 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
05 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
12 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
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