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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Asian forum acts on terror funding
Colin Powell with fellow ARF delegates
Ministers from around the world are meeting in Brunei
Foreign ministers from South East Asian countries and strategic allies from around the world have signed an agreement to take moves to stifle the financing of terrorism.

It follows a statement signed by Asean (the Association of South East Nations) on Tuesday which vowed to jointly fight terrorism.

A more sweeping accord is expected to be signed on Thursday by Asean and US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Twenty-three representatives - the Asean members and foreign ministers from countries including the US, China and Russia are gathered in Brunei for the Asean Regional Forum.

It is their first meeting since 11 September and Asian ministers are keen to demonstrate they are playing their part in the US-led global war against terror.

Finance surveillance

The statement signed on Wednesday vowed to block terrorist access to financial systems and proposes a "financial intelligence unit" to scrutinise the sources of extremists' financing.

Asean members
Brunei
Burma
Cambodia
Indonesia
Laos
Malaysia
Philippines
Singapore
Thailand
Vietnam

The ARF also says it is committed to assisting countries "that need help in implementing necessary laws, regulations and policies to combat terrorist financing and money laundering".

The pact to be signed on Thursday with Mr Powell concentrates on intelligence sharing, and aims to create "a framework for co-operation to prevent, disrupt and combat international terrorism".

Detentions questioned

Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines have arrested dozens of Islamic militants who are suspected of terrorist activities.

ARF members
The 10 Asean members
Australia
Canada
China
EU
India
Japan
Mongolia
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Russia
South Korea
North Korea
US

Mr Powell thanked Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday for his co-operation in Washington's war on terrorism.

Malaysia's foreign minister denied on Wednesday that his government was locking up political dissidents without trial on the pretext that they are Islamic militants.

Syed Hamid told reporters that Malaysia has no problem with "bona fide political opponents".

He added: "You don't wait for attacks to happen... You have to take pre-emptive action."

The tensions on the Korean peninsula and the prickly relations between China and US-allied Taiwan are also on the agenda of ARF.

The forum ends formally on Wednesday but bilateral meetings will continue on Thursday.

See also:

30 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
29 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
29 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
24 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
07 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
05 Jul 02 | Business
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