Sandeep Dikshit

PHUKET: India and Indonesia, recent victims of terror attacks, on Thursday sought a more effective response to the menace through better intelligence-sharing.

At the ASEAN Regional Forum here, Indonesia broached the subject because it was the latest victim — terrorists struck in Jakarta a few days ago — and made “a fervent appeal to all of us” that terrorism had to be fought on a collective as well as country-specific basis, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said.

He was talking to journalists soon after the meeting of the 27-member forum, which has made security the lynchpin of its exertions for the past several years.

India “spontaneously” joined Indonesia in broadly appealing to the members, pointing out that terrorism knew no boundaries and that the perpetrators had become increasingly sophisticated. “I told them that the terrorists have a very efficient network among themselves, and if an effective response to this kind of terror network has to be initiated, there has to be higher cooperation among ourselves in terms of sharing intelligence.”

Mr. Krishna said he told his counterparts, including from Pakistan, that all countries must sharpen their apparatus, and intelligence must be shared immediately among countries so that any possible attack could be prevented. “I think the discussions and consensus we have arrived at are very encouraging, and we will have to build on this.”

The Minister also explained how India would like to forge a stronger relationship with the countries of the region because of their strong complementarities.

“We pledged our support to strengthening this relationship further so the contours of regional cooperation between India and the ASEAN was the major focus and we addressed ourselves to further broadening this relationship. We believe we can do it.” It would be a reciprocal approach by the regional community.

While Mr. Krishna briefly exchanged pleasantries with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the earliest chance for them to engage in substantive talks will be in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Krishna also briefly met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sought by the electronic media, Mr. Qureshi reiterated Islamabad’s stand that it would take action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba if any proof of its indulging in terrorism was found.

Mr. Qureshi maintained that Pakistan was still going through the testimony of Mohammed Ajmal Amir ‘Kasab,’ the lone surviving gunman involved in the Mumbai attacks.

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