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North Korea, Terror Dominate Philippines-Australia Talks
VOA News
13 Jul 2003, 17:01 UTC

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is in Manila for talks on terrorism and regional security with Philippine President Gloria Arroyo.

The North Korean nuclear crisis and the Arroyo government's efforts to subdue Muslim extremist groups in the southern Philippines will dominate discussions when the two leaders meet on Monday. Australian and Philippine officials say Mr. Howard and Mrs. Arroyo want closer cooperation on both issues.

The visit is the prime minister's first stop on a week-long Asia tour that includes Japan and South Korea.

Before leaving Australia, Mr. Howard told reporters he is very worried that a war of words over North Korea's nuclear weapons program will deteriorate into an actual war. He spoke of the need for international pressure to bring North Korea back into line with international laws. He also said he will urge leaders of all the nations on his tour to include China in future negotiations about North Korea, because of Beijing's close relations with Pyongyang.

Another focus of the talks with Mrs. Arroyo will be the alleged links between Philippine insurgents and foreign terror groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah, which is blamed for a bombing that killed more than 200 people on the Indonesian resort island of Bali last October.

Philippine and Australian authorities have been investigating whether separatists fighting for an Islamic state in the south are connected to the Jemaah Islamiyah regional network.

Mr. Howard will open a new Australian embassy in Manila before he leaves for Tokyo on Tuesday.

Australia and Japan are among 11 industrialized members of the recently formed Proliferation Security Initiative. The regional group decided last week to conduct military exercises aimed at blocking illicit trade in nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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