SINGAPORE, Identifying terrorism as the region''s most serious security threat, ASEAN defence ministers Tuesday agreed to step up cooperation to fight it and conduct their first maritime exercise with China to strengthen regional security.
In a joint statement following the two-day ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Retreat, defence chiefs from the regional bloc condemned terrorist attacks around the world, noting: 'Terrorism is a severe threat to ASEAN's progress, prosperity, and very way of life.'
Ministers said the scale and complexity of the terrorist threat in the region continues to grow with the influx of returning terrorist fighters, who move across borders.
'The ASEAN defence ministers agreed to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation among our defence establishments, and with our external partners,' said the statement.
The ministers also said they would step up practical cooperation, through measures including joint exercises and training, explore new ways to collaborate, and work together to counter terrorist propaganda and 'promote positive messages of respect, inclusion, and moderation'.
The 10 ministers and ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi met behind closed doors on Tuesday, during which they were given briefings by Professor Joseph Liow of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Mike Poore, a senior intelligence analyst from the United States.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen led the talks on key security issues at the meeting, at which ministers expressed their support for ADMM's objectives for 2018, said the Singapore Ministry of Defence (Mindef) in a statement.
Besides fighting terrorism, they also committed to improving Asean's capability to respond to chemical, biological and radiological threats from terrorist groups and rogue states; and reaffirmed the importance of having a code for unplanned encounters in both air and sea.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen welcoming his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, during the latter's introductory visit to Singapore on Feb 5, 2018.
After a retreat, the ministers had an informal meeting with Chinese Minister of National Defence Chang Wanquan.
They discussed ways to improve cooperation between China and ASEAN, and said they would conduct an inaugural Asean-China maritime exercise at the end of the year, said Mindef. --
Source: NAM News Network