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International relations

Southeast Asia lays groundwork for terrorism extradition treaties

ASEAN members to discuss model agreement at this week's summit

An anti-terror police officer stands guard during Chinese New Year celebrations in Jakarta.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Southeast Asian nations look to negotiate treaties covering extradition of suspects accused of planning or conducting terrorist attacks, hoping to tighten the net on Islamic militants operating in the expansive region.

Officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will unveil a treaty template, including extradition procedures, at meetings on the sidelines of a four-day ASEAN summit starting here Wednesday.

The bloc's member states will begin negotiating bilateral agreements based on this language as early as this year. Some members states already have special extradition arrangements for terrorism and other suspects, but treaties would more clearly define when and how such action is taken.

Southeast Asia's many mountains and islands offer plenty of opportunities to slip across borders and hide abroad. Extradition agreements would help ensure that terrorism suspects who flee to other ASEAN nations are returned promptly to face charges.

Talks also will be held toward a regional pact governing all 10 nations. The treaties will have to address the need to harmonize differing legal systems among the countries.

ASEAN countries also hope to expand existing joint counterterrorism efforts. The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia conduct joint patrols by sea and air to monitor suspicious vessels.

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