Asean Summit Focuses on Security, Terrorism

Asean Summit Focuses on Security, TerrorismAsean Summit Focuses on Security, Terrorism

Expected to discuss economic integration, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak opened the Asean summit by urging nations to combat terrorism. Maritime issues were also hinted at, with US President Barack Obama calling on disputes to be “resolved”.

Razak opened the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit on Saturday by calling on world leaders to combat terrorism, after a week of deadly attacks in Europe and Africa.

“The perpetrators of these cowardly and barbaric acts do not represent any race, religion or creed, nor should we allow them to claim to do so,” Najib said, commenting on terrorist attacks in Mali and Paris, that combined left more than 150 people dead, Deutsche Welle reported.

While noting that he had initially planned to open the summit with a speech on economic integration, the prime minister said the past week’s events “cast a shadow over us all”.

Najib added that Muslim-majority countries, such as Malaysia, had a duty to expose the lies of an “ideology propagated by these extremists that is the cause of this sadistic violence.”

“They are terrorists and should be confronted as such, with the full force of the law,” he said.

 South China Sea Tensions

China’s overlapping claims with Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea have been a controversial subject among the organization’s member states.

China has been accused of constructing artificial islands to extend its military might in the S. China Sea.

However, a draft of the summit chairman’s statement by host Malaysia makes no apparent reference to the dispute, according to Reuters.

“We call on all parties to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions that would complicate or escalate tensions,” Najib said.

Obama, an invitee to the summit, said that the disputes needed to be “resolved”.

“We believe economic disputes should be resolved by dialogue, not by bullying or coercion,” Obama said during his speech on trade and economic integration.

US naval vessels have entered waters claimed by Beijing, prompting fears of escalation between two of the globe’s largest economies.

 Global Refugee Crisis

After his speech, Obama visited a Kuala Lumpur educational center for refugees, many of them Rohingyas from Myanmar, to help focus attention, he said, on “an unprecedented number of refugees” across the world.

Speaking of the children he met, he said “that’s the face of not only of children from Myanmar, that’s the face of Syrian and Iraqi children”.

Alluding to Republican critics who are trying to block the flow of Syrian refugees to the United States, Obama said, “The notion that somehow we would be fearful of them, that the politics would somehow lead us to turn our sights away from their plight” was not in keeping with American values.