SINGAPORE - Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday (June 28) reaffirmed Singapore's support for global efforts to ensure the enduring defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying that while the terror group no longer controls territory, it continues to retain a diffused global presence and remains a threat.
Speaking at a ministerial meeting of the 83-nation Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Rome, he emphasised that a robust security response is essential but not sufficient, and highlighted Singapore's efforts to counter terrorism through close community engagement and domestic security response preparedness.
He also noted the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Information Facility in Singapore this year, for like-minded countries to share intelligence and pool monitoring and analysis capabilities.
"We will continue to work closely with the community and religious organisations to identify radicalised individuals," said Dr Balakrishnan in his speech.
"We need to win hearts and minds of people around the world and around the region. We need trust and unity amongst different groups, and to eliminate misperceptions or prejudice wherever they arise."
The coalition said in a joint statement that the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria has freed eight million people, but added that adequate resources are needed to prevent the terror group from rebuilding its networks and capabilities to target security forces and civilians.
ISIS-linked networks have also opened up new fronts in the sub-Saharan region, and a session was held at the meeting to discuss the security situation in Africa.
Amid the push by ISIS into the region, the coalition welcomed Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania and Yemen as new members on Monday.
The coalition said in its joint statement that a comprehensive and collective effort remains necessary to achieve the full and enduring defeat of ISIS worldwide.
Pledging Singapore's commitment to work with coalition members, Dr Balakrishnan said: "As the first South-east Asian country to contribute personnel and assets to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Singapore is heartened that our combined efforts have culminated in ISIS' territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria."
But he warned that ISIS continues to be a threat and has exploited the digital sphere to extend its networks and propagate extremism.
Returning foreign terrorist fighters also remain a clear and present danger, he added.
"Its brand of radicalism and violence persists, including in South-east Asia. Therefore, we need to remain vigilant," Dr Balakrishnan said.
"Global terrorism does not respect borders, and can only be defeated through collective action. We are committed to continue working with Coalition members."
Dr Balakrishnan met some counterparts on the sidelines of the conference and had bilateral meetings with Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.