Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines to discuss cooperation in counter-terrorism

Students from Mindanao State University (MSU) paint a mural symbolizing a call for peace after the end of assault against pro-Islamic State militant groups in Marawi on Oct 28, 2017. The main purpose of the meeting is to discuss the situation in Mara
Students from Mindanao State University (MSU) paint a mural symbolizing a call for peace after the end of assault against pro-Islamic State militant groups in Marawi on Oct 28, 2017. The main purpose of the meeting is to discuss the situation in Marawi.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines will hold an informal meeting on the sidelines of the 31st Asean Summit in Manila on Sunday (Nov 12) to discuss their joint plan to address increasing threats of terrorism in the region.

"The main purpose of this meeting is to discuss the situation in Marawi. There have been positive developments in the past few weeks and we expect the Philippines to share information on the progress and outcomes, and (the three countries) will discuss the next steps in the joint plan of action," Arrmanatha Nasir, a spokesman for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday (Nov 9), according to the Jakarta Globe.

Islamic militants stormed Marawi City in the southern Philippines in May. The ensuing battles between the armed terrorists and Philippine security forces lasted five months, claiming over 1,100 lives and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes. The Philippine government wrapped up combat operations in the city on Oct 23.

The fighting drew militants from neighbouring countries to Marawi, and also stoked fears that fleeing fighters would seek refuge in nearby Indonesia and Malaysia.

The three countries had previously agreed to cooperate on counter-terrorism measures, including conducting joint maritime patrols, improving intelligence-sharing and stopping the flow of terrorist financing.

According to the Jakarta Globe, the countries will further discuss efforts to promote deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes at the upcoming meeting.

"Our plan of action also considers future efforts to rebuild the affected areas when the situation in Marawi City returns to normal," Mr Arrmanatha said.