Asean nations sign 'terror pact'

Southeast Asian leaders reach a deal that will allow easier extradition of suspects.

    Not all of the Asean members'
    policies have been a big hit [AFP]

    Southeast Asia has seen and according to a copy of the convention the governments expressed their deep concern "over the grave danger posed by terrorism to innocent lives, infrastructure and the environment, regional and international peace".

    The accord calls on nations to improve regional co-operation in order to prevent attacks, and to rapidly share intelligence and relay terror warnings.

    Al Jazeera asks: Does Asean matter?
    It also urges counter-terrorism training, but stressed that no member state can undertake anti-terrorist operations in another member country.

    The region was also encouraged to strengthen its capability to deal with possible chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.

    Opposition

    While the leaders debated the proposals, hundreds of demonstrators chanted slogans and beat drums several miles away on the streets of central Cebu in protest at the convention.

    Asean facts

    Asean has 10 members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.)

    Asean's population of 558 million is greater than that of the EU, and also that of the three countries that make up Nafta - the US, Canada and Mexico.

    The countries have a combined gross domestic product is $884.35bn, with a per capita income of $1,582.

    Total trade was $1.22 trillion, greater than Japan's.

    They say the new regional anti-terror laws will lead to an increase in human rights violations.

    They also objected to the trade liberalisation plans saying it will damage local industries, mainly fisheries.
     

    Asean nations are keen to counter economic pressure from India and China and according to Gloria Arroyo, the Philippine president, "Asean is committed to expanding its trade area to create one of the world's greatest trading blocs".

    The group also signed a commitment to create Asean's first-ever  charter, aimed at turning the bloc into an EU-style  entity with binding rules and regulations.

    "Asean has matured into a regional organisation and is expanding its role as an integrated regional economy and a dynamic force in maintaining regional peace and stability," they said in their signed accord.

    The bloc has previously acted on informal consensus and refrained from interfering in each other's international affairs, leaving it open to criticism that it is little more than a "talking  shop".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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