JAKARTA • Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have agreed to initiate joint army training to advance efforts to secure the Sulu Sea from rampant piracy.
Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said each country would begin its own army personnel training in January next year before conducting joint training later in the year.
The training will take place in Tarakan in Indonesia's North Kalimantan province, Malaysia's Tawao Island and the Philippines' Bongao Island.
Mr Ryamizard said army personnel set to participate in the joint training would form a special force tasked with facing the notorious Abu Sayyaf militant group, which has masterminded a series of recent kidnappings in the Sulu Sea in the south-western Philippines.
"It's part of a concrete action we Asean countries are taking to secure the region," he said in Jakarta on Thursday.
He said the training locations would later become posts for a joint task force assigned to help secure Sulu waters.
The need for joint army training was discussed during a meeting between Mr Ryamizard and his Malaysian and Philippine counterparts, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Major-General Delfin Lorenzana, held on the sidelines of the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting retreat earlier this week in Laos.
Malaysia and the Philippines welcomed the initiative, which will add to a joint sea patrol in the Sulu Sea that the three neighbours previously agreed on.
JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK