The USA lost war on terrorism in Iraq, now it is going to have another try in Southeast Asia. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday the United States is stepping up cooperation to fight terrorism in Southeast Asia, warning that terror attacks remain a major threat across the region, reports the AP.
"The threat of extremism is a threat that is worldwide and has had its manifestation in Southeast Asia," she said, citing nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia, in 2002 that killed 202 people. "This is a region that does have a problem."
Southeast Asia terror leader Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, was arrested in Thailand in 2003 after an investigation assisted by Washington. He is now in U.S. custody.
Hambali is believed to be the main link between al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah, the regional terror group blamed for the Bali bombings, and a 2003 attack at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia that killed 12 people.
"With our regional partners, we're intensifying counterterrorism cooperation, we're intensifying intelligence cooperation, we're intensifying law enforcement cooperation," Rice said, without elaborating.
Rice arrived on the resort island of Phuket late Sunday after talks in Beijing with Chinese leaders in a four-nation tour through Asia focused primarily on how to get North Korea to give up nuclear weapons development.
In a major breakthrough, Pyongyang said Saturday it would abandon a yearlong boycott and resume disarmament talks this month.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meeting Chinese leaders in Beijing on Sunday, said sitting down to talks after a break of more than a year was just a first step.
Last month the two Koreas agreed to seek a peaceful resolution to the North's nuclear standoff with the US, but failed to set a date for stalled disarmament talks to resume. At the same time North Korea declared it wouldn't need nuclear weapons if the United States treated it like a friend.
"The real issue now is to make progress," she said.
Rice told Fox Television News that Pyongyang had a "bar" to pass, and Washington and its partners "should not spend too much time celebrating" because there was much hard work ahead.
South Korean newspaper editorials said Pyongyang must follow its decision by making real progress at the negotiating table.
But they also said there was a danger the North may try to steer the talks away from its nuclear arms programs by focusing negotiations instead on general disarmament.
Some analysts have said immediate progress was unlikely, especially after the North said in March the talks should be turned into disarmament discussions where it is treated like a member of the nuclear weapons club, on par with Washington, reports Reuters.