Asia is “no longer immune” to threats of terrorism, following attacks by Islamic State-backed militants in the southern Philippines, South Korea’s foreign minister said Monday, ahead of a regional security forum in Manila.
Terrorism is one of the “more complex and interconnected” problems that the region faces amid an evolving international landscape, Foreign Minister Kang Wha said.
“Terrorism knows no boundaries and is directly threatening the safety and well being of our peoples,” Kang said, at the start of a meeting between foreign ministers of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Japan and South Korea.
Kang cited the siege on Marawi City by hundreds of militants who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group.
No fewer than 650 people have been killed in the city, 800 km south of Manila, during the 11-week conflict.
“I think we can all agree that the Asian region is no longer immune to terrorist attacks,” she said.
The 13 foreign ministers later will join counterparts from 14 other Asia-Pacific countries in the ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia’s largest security forum, where tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea were set to be among the top topics.
In a draft statement to be issued at the end of the meetings, the ministers stressed the need for countries to employ all means in addressing terrorism and its roots, noting “the need to make full and effective use of social media to counter the spread of terrorists’ narratives online.”