Asean Summit

Asean Summit: Leaders push for united global war against terror

Obama urges Russia to direct focus on ISIS, saying eliminating the group is 'going to get done'

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (left) shakes hands with Barack Obama before a session of the 10th East Asia Summit.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (left) shakes hands with Barack Obama before a session of the 10th East Asia Summit.PHOTO: EPA

Leaders on the closing day of the Asean Summit pressed for a united global fight against terrorist groups, with a focus on "destroying" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which claimed responsibility for the Nov 13 deadly attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

United States President Barack Obama insisted yesterday that eliminating ISIS, which has recruited thousands and taken control of huge swathes of Iraq and Syria, is "going to get done".

"It will be helpful if Russia directs its focus on ISIL," he said, using another name for ISIS, instead of targeting rebels opposed to embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

"That does not add to our efforts against ISIL. In some ways, it strengthens it because ISIL is also fighting many of those groups that the Russians were hitting."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also called on Russia and the US to cooperate in rooting out terrorism and said he would unveil a comprehensive plan to fight extremism and violence early next year.

"We need to show global solidarity to address... the common enemy of ISIL, Daesh, some other extremists and terrorist groups," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that he wanted global cooperation to combat terrorism after Islamist militants allied to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network killed 19 people, including six Russians, in an attack on a luxury hotel in the West African nation of Mali.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who attended the summit in Mr Putin's place, echoed the call for unity.

"We need a consolidated anti-terrorist position of those countries that have a large Islamic community and, incidentally, Russia is one of these countries," he said.

Closing the summit as Asean chair, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said there was "an emphatic sense of global togetherness" at the meetings to deal with terror.

"Even China and Russia want to work with other countries to combat violent extremism. It becomes a global agenda now," he said.

At a press conference before leaving Kuala Lumpur, Mr Obama said he invited all 10 Asean leaders to the US next year "to make sure we keep deepening our partnership here in South-east Asia". "I'm pleased they accepted, and I look forward to continuing our work," he said.

He called on the global community not to succumb to fear. "The most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we're not afraid; to not elevate them and somehow buy into their fantasy that they're doing something important," he said.

The US leader also dismissed media reports referring to Abdelhamid Abaaoud as a mastermind of the Paris attacks. Abaaoud died in a French police raid last Wednesday.

"He's not a mastermind," Mr Obama said. "He found a few other vicious people, got hands on some fairly conventional weapons and, sadly, it turns out if you're willing to die, you can kill a lot of people."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2015, with the headline 'Leaders push for united global war against terror'. Print Edition | Subscribe