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Homeland Security

Washington File

20 June 2003

Official Says 10th ASEAN Regional Forum Focused on Terrorism, Security

(State's Indonesia/East Timor office director at Heritage Foundation)
By Anthony Kujawa
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Strengthening counter-terrorism efforts and promoting
regional security were top U.S. priorities at the 10th Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, according to a senior
State Department official.
Speaking June 19 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Thomas
Cynkin, the director of the State Department's office of Indonesian
and East Timorese affairs, discussed outcomes of the ASEAN Regional
Forum (ARF) held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia the previous day.
"ARF has taken on a prominent position in counter-terrorism activities
in Southeast Asia," Cynkin said. The State Department official also
outlined U.S. positions on North Korea's nuclear program, the
crackdown on democracy leaders in Burma and the conflict in Aceh,
Cynkin said the new "outcome oriented" inter-sessional meetings, such
as the March 2003 meeting on transnational crime and counter-terrorism
held in Malaysia, were transforming ARF "in the direction of becoming
a more operationally effective organization."
Cynkin added that ARF is moving toward playing a "more functional role
in preventative diplomacy" through efforts to address the situation on
the Korean peninsula and enhance cooperation on common security
threats such as international terrorism, transnational crime and
On North Korea, Cynkin said he was "very gratified" ARF members made
it clear they would work together to establish a Korean peninsula free
of nuclear weapons. According to Cynkin, the United States has been
pushing for a multilateral forum to address the issue of North Korea's
pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The more the North Korean government hears from the international
community and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the "more
likely we will be able to convince them that they have to change their
behavior," he said.
With respect to Burma, Cynkin said the willingness of the ASEAN
ministers to express their "clear concerns" about the crackdown
against democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi was very notable,
especially in light of the group's tendency to avoid "too overtly" or
"too publicly" criticizing member states.
"To be effective and successful in Burma," he said, "the international
community must stand together."
Cynkin said the only acceptable way forward for the military junta
ruling Burma is to release Aung Sang Suu Kyi and her supporters and to
resume dialogue with them.
In response to a question on the conflict in Aceh, Cynkin said the
United States "very strongly supports Indonesia's territorial
integrity, and that includes Aceh."
"But at the same time," he said, "we are very mindful of the fact that
as in any conflict, internal or external, there are certain rules of
land warfare and there are certain human rights considerations."
"A military solution is not possible," said Cykin, who urged a
negotiated settlement. He expressed disappointment that the cessation
of hostilities negotiated between the Government of Indonesia and the
Free Aceh Movement (GAM) broke down in May and called for the parties
to respect the rules of land warfare and human rights.
"We are very disappointed that in the end neither side fully upheld
the terms of the cessation of hostilities agreement [signed in Geneva,
December 9, 2002 by the Indonesian government and GAM]," he said.
Cynkin also urged "appropriate access" be given to non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and the press in Aceh, saying that NGO access can
help "alleviate" the immediate humanitarian concerns facing people
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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