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UN vows to help ASEAN counter terrorism, crime

The UN chief arrived at 10:36 a.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. He was welcomed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. Photo from United Nations Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the UN is prepared to extend support to ASEAN in battling terrorism and crime in the region.

During his remarks at the 9th ASEAN-UN Summit, Guterres said: "The United Nations stands ready to provide technical support to ASEAN and its member countries in their efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, and to combat transnational crime, including drug trafficking and people trafficking, through policies able to protect their citizens with effective law enforcement and respect for human rights"

The United Nations wis one of the dialogue partners in the regional bloc's meeting hosted by the Philippines on November 12-14.

READ: UN chief Guterres in Philippines for ASEAN meet

Guterres also stressed that the "United Nations is prioritizing support for national and regional efforts to counter terrorism and to prevent violent extremism, including the establishment of a dedicated UN Office of Counter-Terrorism."

He acknowledged the regional bloc's adoption of the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism and noted its emphasis on the "importance of comprehensive approaches and preventive action."

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On September 20 in Manila, the ministers from the regional bloc ratified the declaration that galvanizes the member-countries to "counter radicalization and violent extremism, in particular those which lead to terrorism in all forms and manifestations through means such as the prevention of radicalization, financing, recruitment, and mobilization of individuals into terrorist groups."

Marawi liberation

Guterres also congratulated the Philippines on the liberation of Marawi City from the Islamic State-affiliated Maute terrorist group

In May, the Mautes and a faction of the Abu Sayyaf group led by Isnilon Hapilon laid siege to the capital of Lanao del Sur province,prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire Mindanao region under martial law.

After almost five months of grueling fight among the government troops and the terrorist, Duterte, on October 18, declared the battle-scarred city liberated.

According to the Philippine military and militant network reports, foreign terrorists helped mount the attack on the country's only Islamic city.

Foreign funding also significantly helped in the battle, while fighters recruited from Indonesia and Malaysia also augmented the terrorists forces in the months-long battle for Marawi City.

READ: Militant's widow recruited foreign fighters for Marawi siege — Aguirre

Sustainable development

Guterres also stressed that: "Sustainable and inclusive development is the best way to prevent both conflict and violent extremism."

"That is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our blueprint for a safe and prosperous future on a healthy planet, and central to the ASEAN Community Vision 2025," he added.

The United Nations chief noted that the economic  growth in the ASEAN, "one of the best performers on the Millennium Development Goals," has lifted "millions out of extreme poverty in the past five decades."

"As it powers its way to becoming the world's fourth largest economy by 2050, we look forward to including millions more in the shared benefits of prosperity," Guterres added.

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