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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Asean makes anti-terror pact with US
Colin Powell with fellow delegates at the meeting
Ministers from around the world are meeting in Brunei
South East Asian states have signed an agreement with the United States on ways to curb terrorist activity in the region.

The issue of terrorism has dominated the annual ministerial summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) taking place this week in Brunei.

Correspondents say the latest agreement is the most powerful of three anti-terrorist declarations to emerge from the summit between Asean and other regional powers.

It binds Southeast Asia and the United States in a framework "to prevent, disrupt and combat international terrorism".

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

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said the agreement was "a political declaration that brings Asean and the United States together in a more intimate relationship".

However, he stressed that the pact does not herald the deployment of further US troops in the region, which would be handled on a country to country basis.

The US is ready to offer technical assistance to local security forces in return for greater co-operation in dealing with suspected terrorists.

South East Asia is seen by US officials as a second front in their campaign against terrorism.

US troops have been in the southern Philippines since early this year helping local forces fight the rebel Abu Sayyaf group.

Malaysia and Singapore have also arrested more than 80 members of what they say is a terrorist network which was planning bomb attacks on US and other targets.

Watered down

The agreement between the US and Asean on combating international terrorism reflected the assessment many governments here share with the US that militant Islamic groups are a serious threat to their stability.

However it contained few specific anti-terrorist measures.

Indonesia and Vietnam both objected to any clauses that might be viewed as a green light for greater US military involvement in the region.

Instead there were pledges to improve co-ordination between the intelligence, financial and immigration authorities of member governments.

Dangerous intervention?

James Putzel from the London School of Economics told the BBC World Service's Newshour programme that there has been a rise of political Islam in the region.

But he warned that if the US "pushes too hard", it risks breeding a nationalistic mentality in the region.

Mr Powell is on a six-nation tour of South East Asia, and is heading next for Jakarta.

He is taking a plan to increase anti-terror training for Indonesia's police

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jonathan Head
"There are few specific anti-terrorist measures in the agreement"
See also:

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