A senior foreign ministry official said Cambodia has already taken measures to fight
terrorism, although the country had not yet signed cooperation agreements with other
Asean member states.
The issue of terrorism has dominated the international agenda after the attacks on
New York and Washington last year.
"We are not careless [about this]," said under-secretary of state Sieng
Lapresse. "We support the idea of the US and Europe in their political commitments
in combating terrorism."
"We are very careful on this issue and would not allow these groups to use Cambodia
as a base from which to fight."
Lapresse will accompany officials from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the
National Bank of Cambodia to an international counter-terrorism conference in the
US state of Hawaii between March 24 and 26.
Lapresse said Cambodia was waiting to see the position of other Asean nation-states.
He said time would tell whether the group would stand united, or if the government
would have to sign bilateral agreements with individual states. Several Asean members
are uneasy at the US-led war on terrorism.
One disadvantage to policing the country, said Lapresse, was the country's extensive
border with Thailand, which runs for more than 800 kilometers.
"We know that potential terrorist groups can survive using the financial systems.
Therefore the US and Malaysia have invited us to learn the procedures for cutting
that out of the financial system," he said.
Kao Kim Hourn, executive director of Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace,
said that at the informal Asean summit in Bangkok February 21 Asean leaders had issued
a declaration on joint action to combat terrorism.
"They are now working on this matter to establish appropriate mechanisms,"
said Kim Hourn.