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ASEAN to focus on radicalism

Leaders of ASEAN and Australia placed particular focus on emerging non-traditional security threats in their inaugural ASEAN-Australia Biennial Summit in Vientiane on Wednesday.

Non-traditional security threats comprise international terrorism, violent extremism and drug trafficking.

The initiatives mostly reflect the existing work that Australia and Indonesia have nurtured at the bilateral and multilateral levels with each other and other partners in the region.

Together with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and other ASEAN leaders issued the Joint Declaration for the Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi revealed.

The joint declaration acknowledged, among other things, the work of the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) on combating terrorism, and plans to increase cooperation on counterterrorism, Retno added.

The minister also said Jokowi’s efforts in deradicalization were lauded by his Australian counterpart.

“In a few of his statements, PM Turnbull mentioned Indonesia’s contributions to efforts to combat terrorism,” she said at the end of the second day of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits.

Earlier in the day, Turnbull said Australia would be requesting increased intelligence sharing with allies in the region, as reported by Australia’s ABC news agency.

“Many of the nations here assembled — Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to name a few — have been victims of significant terrorist attacks in very recent times. They too face the challenge of returning foreign fighters adding to already radicalized elements in their community,” he said.

“Our collaboration in terms of counterterrorism is critically important; it is intense now [and] it will become more so [...] We are engaged now and we will become more engaged.”

This year’s ASEAN-Australia Summit is the first since the partners entered into a strategic partnership in 2014, and will be held biennially with Australia proposing a Special Leaders Summit in 2018.

Meanwhile, Indonesia called on other ASEAN leaders and Australia to realize the vision of a “resilient region”, the foreign minister said.

In order to achieve this, Jokowi raised the need for a cooperation mechanism to combat transnational organized crime (TOC) by leading the fight against radical extremism through intelligence sharing, legislation cooperation and to promote the global movement of moderate ideology.

“We have a particular interest in [fighting] the drug problem, because we don’t want the youth of Indonesia or ASEAN to throw away their futures to drug abuse. That’s why there is a need to increase monitoring at the borders of each respective partner country, as well as the sharing of intelligence and information,” Retno said.

During the summit, Jokowi also raised the issue of cooperation in maritime security in the region, pushing the existing agenda from the East Asia Summit (EAS) to the platform with Australia, Retno said.

Retno further said Indonesia and Australia would become the first nations to implement the maritime security cooperation mechanism from the EAS this November.

In addition to the ASEAN-Australia Summit, President Jokowi also attended various other ASEAN Plus One dialog partner meetings including with the UN, China, Japan and South Korea, as well as the 19th ASEAN Plus Three Summit with China, Japan and South Korea.

During the 18th ASEAN-South Korea Summit, where ASEAN leaders interfaced with President Park Geun-hye, Jokowi took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of peace and stability as the key factor for economic growth in the region.

The President also placed heavy emphasis on maritime cooperation during the ASEAN-Japan Summit, while also expressing appreciation to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for Japan’s expanded partnership for quality infrastructure, which falls in line with the region’s Masterplan for ASEAN Connectivity.

For the 8th ASEAN-UN Summit, Jokowi raised the issue of poverty reduction in the region through the empowerment of small and medium-sized enterprises and inclusive financing, among others. He also reiterated the importance of the partnership to continue pushing the issue of Palestinian independence, and urging ASEAN leaders and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to aid efforts to resume the Six-Party Talks with North Korea.

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