ASEAN, Australia committed to countering terrorism

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The ASEAN-Australia Summit concluded on 18th March with both sides adopting a joint statement – the Sydney Declaration – which sets out their shared commitment to boost cooperation on various issues.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Government of Australia on Cooperation to Counter International Terrorism signed on 17 March 2018 will deepen and expand our strong existing cooperation.
The signatories agreed to share intelligence and strengthen law enforcement cooperation, among a host of other joint initiatives.
The leaders exchanged views on ways to boost cooperation on security issues, particularly cyber security. The landmark MoU to combat international terrorism inked on Saturday focused on developing capabilities to deal with terrorists’ use of technology to spread their ideology.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other Southeast Asian leaders signed an agreement at the summit with the Australian government to strengthen cooperation and collaboration to counter violent extremism and terrorism within the region.
Both sides unequivocally condemned in the strongest terms terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, reiterating their commitment to work together even more closely to enhance regional cooperation to counter terrorism, including to prevent and suppress the flow of foreign terrorist fighters in the region, and address the underlying factors and conditions that contribute to the growth and spread of violent extremism and radicalization.
“Nowhere is far away from anywhere when it comes to terrorism, and none of us can tackle this threat alone,” said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Australia has continuously supported humanitarian aid to Myanmar and is also a valuable ally with ASEAN. In 2016, the ASEAN-Australia summit was held in Laos and the recent one was held in Australia herself. Relations between ASEAN and Australia reached mutual strategic levels in 2014, and in 2016 the ASEAN-Australian trade value reached USD 73 billion placing it in third place after China and the European Union.
Australia has pledged to contribute humanitarian aid to Myanmar and last year agreed to support an additional AUD 16 million (approx. USD 12.3 million), as well as to follow the recommendations from Kofi Annan’s final report on Rakhine State in providing assistance to the area. Since July 2016, Australia has provided USD 18 million in cash assistance to Myanmar.
In all the meetings between Australia and ASEAN, the subject of counter terrorism has been given careful deliberations and Myanmar has been quick to discuss the recent surges of terrorism and violent attacks in her border areas. As Myanmar increases cooperation with her allies and elevates her standing in the international community, then surely goodwill and collaboration will also increase between all stakeholders.

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