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Indonesia to propose new ASEAN intelligence sharing to track militants

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, sixth from right, poses with the ASEAN foreign ministers during the closing ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Regional Forum summit in Manila, Philippines, on 8 August 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Indonesia will propose a broad intelligence sharing initiative among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to deal with the rising threat of radical Islamist militants, its defence minister said on Thursday.

Unrest in the southern Philippines has unsettled neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia, as the three countries grapple with the possible rise of the Islamic State aided by local militants who have declared allegiance with the group.

Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacuda said he would propose an “Our Eyes” initiative at the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) in the Philippines this month.

“Be it maritime, air or intelligence … we will fine-tune this when we have deliberations and discussions at the ADMM,” he told a news conference at the launch of air patrols between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The patrols are part of a multi-pronged initiative involving the three countries — which also includes maritime patrols and intelligence sharing — aimed at plugging porous borders around the Sulu Sea where militant groups aligned with the IS are active.