BRUSSELS (Jan 27) –Southeast Asian and European Union (EU) nations have agreed to team up to fight terrorism to maintain peace, stability and security in both regions.

The foreign ministers from ASEAN and the 15 member countries of the EU today adopted a Joint Declaration on Cooperation to Combat Terrorism which commits them to work together by strengthening ties between law enforcement agencies from both sides including EUROPOL and ASEANAPOL. They agreed to exchange information on ways to curb terrorism including the development of more effective policies including legal,regulatory and administrative frameworks to check this menace.

They noted that terrorism, which includes links with transnational organised crime like money-laundering, arms trafficking and the production of and trafficking in illicit drugs, have become part of a complex set of new security challenges that have to be addressed in various fora including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).They also raised concerns about the illegal movements of nuclear,chemical, biological and other potentially deadly materials.

ASEAN and the EU have pledged to collaborate on capacity-building to assist ASEAN countries to address the impact of terrorist activities and welcome the setting up of the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism in Malaysia

The ministers said there is an urgent need for a comprehensive approach to the threat of terrorism which must be addressed through political, economic, diplomatic, military and legal means. They also acknowledged the need to strengthen dialogue and promote mutual understanding between cultures.

“This cooperation between two regions to fight this scourge is important,” said the Philippine Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Lauro Baja. “It will show the terrorists that we are serious about taking concerted action against them.”