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Anti-terrorism on the agenda

Anti-terrorism on the agenda

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.

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