ASEAN, Australia ink pact on counter-terror cooperation

MANILA � The Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) and Australia on Saturday sealed a historic agreement seeking to bolster regional security, with the joint signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on a Cooperation to Counter International Terrorism on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.

Leading the Philippine government delegation was Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who represents President Rodrigo R. Duterte for the two-day leaders' dialogue in Sydney.

The MOU is aimed at strengthening the cooperation between the two parties in combating terrorism, counter-terrorism financing, and in the fight against violent extremism.

In a joint statement, the leaders stressed that the crafting of the MOU demonstrates their "joint resolve to stand together" against those who seek to divide communities.

The document intensifies Australia's annual engagement with the bloc and enshrines practical measures to deepen dialogue across governments and security and law enforcement institutions.

The MOU is supported by programs on technical and regulatory assistance to develop best practices in aid of counter-terrorism legislation, and regional dialogues and workshops on topics, such as electronic evidence, financial intelligence, and countering online radicalization.

"ASEAN nations have a strong record of working together to confront violent extremism and defeat terrorist organizations," the joint statement read.

"In recent years the threat posed by returning foreign fighters and ISIL-linked extremists has grown. It makes today's cooperation all the more important," it added.

The MOU signing adds to the numerous peace and security cooperation between the two parties, which ranges from cyber and maritime cooperation, in their fight against people trafficking. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency