Asian, African Leaders Agree to Unite Against Terror Threat

By BenarNews Staff
2015.04.24
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150424-ID-AAC-620 Indonesian President Joko Widodo (center), King Mswati III of Swaziland (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping take part in a signing ceremony at the Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, April 24, 2015.
AFP

Asian and African leaders ended a meeting in Indonesia this week by agreeing to cooperate in the battle against terrorism and extremism, but they did not adopt a key common strategy to contain the threats – especially those posed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

"We all condemn acts of extremism and terrorism in the name of religions, and promote dialogues among cultures and religious," Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said Thursday during his closing address at the Asian-African Conference.

Leaders and senior officials of more than 100 countries in Africa and Asia, who attended the two-day talks, agreed in a declaration to crack down on terrorist linkages that adversely affected development, political stability, social and cultural values.

They agreed to cooperate in countering the appeal of terrorism, violent extremism and the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes, and they pledged to help check funding for terrorism, including through payment of ransoms.

"We reiterate our strong and unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and underline that we will not yield to terrorism," they said in one of three documents adopted at the end of the summit.

Aside from summit host Jokowi, among other leaders who participated at the talks were Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Growing threat

Reports had said that Indonesia invited leaders from 109 countries. But hardly two dozen leaders turned up for the meeting to mark the 60th anniversary of the Bandung conference, which made a developing-world stand against colonialism and led to the Cold War era's Non-Aligned Movement.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, and other Islamic countries are concerned about the growing threat posed by the IS. The group controls vast swathes of territory in several countries in the Middle East including Iraq, Syria and Libya, in its bid to establish an Islamic caliphate.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized that security cooperation was key to wiping out the terrorism threat.

"Together we can fight terrorists and radicals in both continents," she said.

India, which has the world’s second largest Muslim population, told the conference that the IS had emerged as a cause of “grave concern,” reports said.

“We must be resolute in countering this scourge that challenges our civilization," Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a ministerial meeting.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab described terrorism as an “act of colonialism that still exists in many parts of the world,” according to a document from the conference.

"We are responsible in fighting terrorism, an act that is very close to colonialism," he said.

Mixed reviews

Although the Indonesian meeting helped set the tone for increased cooperation against terrorism and other pressing issues, the leaders who gathered in Bandung adopted no key strategies, experts noted.

But Indonesian international relations expert Makarim Wibisono described the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) document adopted at the meeting as “more comprehensive” than the one adopted at the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference.

“I believe that the NAASP will enhance cooperation among Asian and African countries,” he added.

Others said that the conference failed to address the conflict in the Middle East effectively, including the fighting in Yemen.

“Even though the results were good, I do not see any concrete actions stated to end the situation in Yemen. Many innocent people have been killed in the Saudi’s air strike,” said human rights advocate Hariyati, of the Karena Kasih Foundation.

On Friday, a United Nations report said that civilian casualties had mounted since the start of a Saudi Arabia-led offensive against Shiite rebels in Yemen. More than 500 civilians have been killed in the nearly month-long conflict, including at least 115 children, the U.N. said.

The fighting has deprived Yemenis of food, fuel, water and medicines, causing what a Red Cross official called a humanitarian catastrophe, reports have said.

The Asia-Africa Summit also adopted a declaration on Palestine, reaffirming support of what it called the just struggle of the Palestinian people to regain their right to self-determination.

It said that leaders remained committed to the principles of self-determination as adopted by the Bandung Conference in 1955, and in accordance with the U.N. Charter.

“We will never forget Palestine,” Egyptian leader Mahlab said. “They have the right to have their own state…. The road is still long but it has been started by our founding fathers. We need to continue [working toward the goal].”

The meeting’s declaration on Palestine “is a good step forward,” said Siti Mutiah Setiawati, a Mid-East expert at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta.

"All countries attending the conference have agreed to Palestinian’s freedom and will continue to support infrastructure reconstruction, capacity building, as well as development programs,” she said.

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