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Joint Press Conference at South East Asian Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism (SEARCCT), Kuala Lumpur, with Datuk Seri Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar Albar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia.



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MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS HON ALEXANDER DOWNER, MP

TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE

DATE: June 11 2004

TITLE: Joint Press Conference at South East Asian Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism (SEARCCT), Kuala Lumpur, with Datuk Seri Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar Albar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia.

Syed Hamid: I just want to say a few words. I would like to thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Alexander Downe r, together with his delegation for taking time to visit us at the South East Asian Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism. This is a new office for us, we have not even officially opened the Centre, so you are the first foreign visitor to the Centre. I hope the briefing given by the Director-General will give you an idea what we have been doing since we established it in July last year. So, I hope we will have more and more cooperation with Australia in respect of the Centre and with other countries. Thank you for taking the time to see us and visit us here.

Mr Downer: I just want to say it’s a great pleasure to come here to meet with the people working at the South East Asian Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism and I appreciate very much the Minister hosting my visit here. This is a very important illustration of regional cooperation on counter terrorism. It sends a message to all of us throughout South East Asia and beyond that no single country can tackle terrorism alone. We all have to work together. And I appreciate very much the initiative of the Malaysian Government to establish SEARCCT and the excellent work that’s being done here by the Malaysian Government. Our authorities are cooperating with the Centre, we will be helping to present courses here as time goes on. We have one coming up in August of this year, so it’s a very good illustration of us all as a region working together, working with the Europeans, the Americans, the Japanese to make sure we are much more effective at countering terrorism than obviously we have been in the past. Again I thank the Malaysians, the Minister and the Director-General of the Centre for hosting my visit here today.

Question: Mr Downer is there any plan to (inaudible) the MOU signed between Malaysia and Australia?

Mr Downer: I don’t think we need to change it. I think the way the MOU is drafted is a good document, it provides a breadth of opportunities for us to cooperate between our police forces, our officials in ministries, like in our case in our Immigration Department and obviously through our Defence officials and so on. So I think the breadth is there in the existing MOU. I think we showed a lot of foresight in signing that document back in August 2002. That was

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a very sensible thing that the Malaysian and the Australian Governments did and it’s holding us in very good stead.

Question: Some time ago (inaudible) Australia has mentioned something about pre-emptive measures which has provoked some controversy in this region (inaudible)

Mr Downer: I think this was an amazing media beat-up of spectacular proportions. I think any Malaysian Government would take the view that if there was a terrorist organisation planning to attack Malaysia or Malaysian interests, the Malaysian Government would do what it could to try to stop it. And if that terrorist attack was being launched from another country they’d ask that other country to stop it, and we know that the strength and cooperation around the region is such that any other country in the region would. I don’t think there’s anything more or less than that and that’s using Malaysia as an example and obviously the same applies to Australia or Indonesia or the Philippines or wherever else. It’s just got sort of reinterpreted into a kind of - the reason it got reinterpreted was that this discussion occurred after the Bali bombing and before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and so this got confused with the two things.

Question: (inaudible) reports that JI was targeting Australian and other diplomats in Indonesia, have you had any security directives (inaudible)

Mr Downer: Well there have been, of course, there are reports of that in the media today. There has been over quite some period of time a flow of information about different nationalities being targeted by Jemaah Islamiah. We know JI targeted Australia and Australians as well of course as other nationalities, not just Australians. And we take every precaution, ranging from the cooperation we have with the Indonesian police, intelligence agencies and TNI through to our own security precautions at our Embassy. We have quite extensive security at our Embassy, our Ambassador and senior officials are very closely protected and we are not going to be threatened by terrorist organisations in this way. We are not going to be threatened by them and told what to do, and what our policies should be by a terrorist organisation. They need to understand that and we will continue to provide the sort of excellent service that our Ambassador and Embassy and senior officials provide to the Australian community in our relations with Indonesia. And we’re not going to be cowered or threatened by some fanatics in Jemaah Islamiah.

ENDS…………………………………………………………………June 11 2004