THE United Nations (UN) should continue to play a central role in coordinating multilateral cooperation against terrorism and help further broaden international efforts in fighting it, foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Russia said.
In a statement, Asean and Russian ministers have expressed their readiness to consolidate their efforts to prevent, combat and suppress the threat of terrorism in the region.
“We are committed to countering the growing spread of violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, as well as terrorist propaganda, including the use of the Internet and social media for terrorism-related purposes,” the top diplomats said in a statement issued after a meeting during the 50th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) on Tuesday.
They also vowed contribute to the development and implementation of comprehensive strategies to prevent and counter the spread of terrorism, including the public justification of such acts.
National security experts recently warned about the possible return of extremists in Southeast Asia if the crisis in Marawi City would continue.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) has yet to clear Marawi of members of the Islamic State-linked Maute Group that attacked the city in May.
Shashi Jayakumar, senior fellow and head of the Center of Excellence for National Security at Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that if the conflict would play out in a bloody way, it would serve as a “magnet” for jihadists and could really affect regional security.
The ministers also committed to boost cooperation to stop travel of Russians and citizens of Asean member nations to known conflict zones in the Middle East with a view to joining terrorist groups.
They also vowed to effectively deal with the return of foreign terrorist fighters challenging the security and stability in the region.
The top diplomats from the 10-member regional bloc and their Russian counterpart also emphasized the importance of blocking the terrorists’ resources and financing and this could be where the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) could play a major role.
FATF is an inter-governmental body combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
“We encourage the FATF to continue its efforts to identify sources and channels of terrorist financing and highlight the urgent task of identifying states, individuals and entities engaged in economic relations with terrorist groups,” they stated.
The ministers are also open to the establishment of communication channels between Asean and Russia’s competent agencies to facilitate exchange of information and intelligence to counter the spread of ideologies, which encourage terrorism and to prevent the commission of terrorist-related offenses, as defined by existing international conventions and treaties.
“We are determined to consistently strengthen Asean-Russia cooperation in countering international terrorism. In this regard we fully support the capacity building training courses conducted by Russia on a regular basis for the law enforcement officers of the Asean Member States,” they said.