[Documents menu] Documents menu

From owner-seasia-l@LIST.MSU.EDU Tue Dec 4 16:01:50 2001
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2001 14:09:27 -0600
Reply-To: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
Subject: SEAsia: U.S. Wants to Join S.E. Asia Anti-Terror Plan

U.S. Wants to Join S.E. Asia Anti-Terror Plan

By Dan Eaton, Reuters,
Friday 16 November 2001, 4:42 AM ET

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States wants to be involved in anti-terrorism initiatives agreed by Southeast Asian nations this month, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific said on Friday.

Admiral Dennis Blair told reporters the United States saw the accord adopted by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) at its summit in Brunei as vital for fighting terrorism in the region.

ASEAN leaders adopted a declaration which condemned the September 11 hijack attacks on New York and Washington and forged an agreement to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts, but made no mention of the bombing of Afghanistan.

There is also a very important regional component here in Southeast Asia that the U.S. doesn't have a role in and that's the ASEAN regional initiative, he told reporters during a visit to Bangkok.

I know that out of the ASEAN summit initiative of about 10 days ago the concept of a command post exercise utilizing the armed forces in a counter-terrorism scenario was endorsed, and we are talking with the countries about how we can support that.

Army chiefs of the 10-member ASEAN met in Manila on Thursday to draw up plans against terrorism in the region. Blair, who arrived in Thailand from the Philippines, did not say if he had taken part in those talks.

He acknowledged there were groups within many countries in the region which opposed the U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan.

There is no doubt that there are groups in many countries who oppose what the United States is doing, Blair said, making specific mention of protests in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

This is what happens in democracies, but the governments have favored, have offered and provided assistance. The region has really come together, he said.

Afghanistan's Taliban, who have lost large swathes of the country to the U.S.-supported opposition Northern Alliance in recent days, are accused of sheltering Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, who Washington says helped orchestrate the September 11 attacks.

The United States has listed a Philippine Muslim group, Abu Sayyaf, as one of the groups with links to bin Laden.

The Abu Sayyaf claims to be fighting for an independent homeland in the south of the mainly Catholic country but its main activity has been kidnap for ransom.

It is holding two Americans and eight Filipinos kidnapped in May and June.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.