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Indonesia, Philippines boost joint anti-terror fight

JAKARTA, March 8, 2011 (AFP) – Indonesia and the Philippines on Tuesday pledged to boost cooperation in the fight against terror during the first visit to Jakarta by Philippine President Benigno Aquino.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the two countries have agreed to hasten negotiations on delineating maritime boundaries to tackle “real and concrete” terrorism threats they both face.

“Terrorism has national, regional and global networks. In Southeast Asia, terrorists and their leaders have high mobility,” he told reporters at a joint press conference with Aquino.

“There must not be in Southeast Asia what is called a safe haven for terrorism,” he added.

Aquino said intelligence and training exchanges between the two countries’ security forces are ongoing, but it will be “criminal” if the governments did not explore all avenues to stop terrorists crossing marine borders.

“If we’re to treat them as isolated incidents, we’re in effect strengthening their capacities to go in and out to inflict harm,” he added.

“Once we delineate… our maritime boundaries, we’ll enhance the coverage of the prevention of the migration of terror networks from inflicting harm on our respective people,” he added.

The two leaders also explored economic opportunities and witnessed the signing of bilateral agreements on education, sports and combatting transnational crimes.

Aquino is scheduled to leave Indonesia for Singapore on Wednesday.

Indonesia has been rocked by a series of bombings in recent years staged by Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people.

JI is a Southeast Asian extremist group inspired by Al-Qaeda. Its ultimate goal is to unite Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and the southern Philippines into a fundamentalist Islamic state, using terrorist attacks to destabilize existing governments.

The Philippines faces insurgencies including a rebellion since 1978 by the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which seeks an independent Muslim state on the island of Mindanao.

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