Jakarta. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, and Russia on Sunday (06/08) agreed to boost cooperation in counterterrorism, focusing on travel restrictions to the Middle East and efforts to curb the flow of money from international terrorist groups.
In a joint statement released after an Asean-Russia ministerial meeting in Manila, the Philippines, the foreign ministers agreed to "counter travel of citizens of Russia and Asean member states to conflict zones in the Middle East with a view to joining terrorist groups" and said they will also deal with them when they return as foreign terrorist fighters.
Asean and Russia noted blocking of terrorist financing is crucial for any counterterrorism efforts to be effective, but did not elaborate on how they will tackle the issue. The statement only encouraged the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to continue its efforts to identify sources and channels of terrorist financing.
The statement suggests in the future Asean and Russia may establish exclusive channels of communication between their agencies to facilitate exchanges of information and intelligence, which will be crucial to prevent the spread of extremist and radical ideologies as well as to stop terrorist attacks.
Russia has been actively involved in capacity-building training courses for law enforcement officers in Asean member states, and will likely continue to do so as the two sides seek to strengthen cooperation to combat increasing terror threats.
The statement also said Asean and Russia will "promote sharing of best practices on rehabilitative and social development programs" to address "root causes of terrorism and prevent the perpetration of terrorist acts."
The meeting in Manila with Russia is part of a series of meetings held by Asean with its strategic partners, which also include China, Canada and the United States.