John Kerry to urge Philippines, SE Asia action vs ISIS
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2014 - 3:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — United States State Secretary John Kerry is in Jakarta, Indonesia to hold meetings with Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and other leaders to build the campaign against extremists of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS).

An unnamed senior official of the US State Department said that Kerry, who is in Southeast Asia for the eighth time in the last 20 months, represents the US' campaign to gain support against ISIS from Muslim-majority Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei as well as from countries with significant Muslim populations like Singapore and the Philippines.

"I would put at the top of the list the international effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL," the official said, as quoted in a transcript of a press conference held in Washington, Monday.

"Breaking it down, the effort to combat violent extremism, to block recruitment and to protect against the solicitation of foreign fighters—terrorist fighters from Southeast Asia to the Middle East," he added.

American Admiral Samuel Locklear, chief of the US Pacific Command, bared last month that about 1,000 fighters from the Asia Pacific have joined the ranks of ISIS.

The State official said, meanwhile, that Kerry will also warn the Southeast Asian nations against the return of hardened fighters to the region.

He will also call for action to debunk and denigrate extremist propaganda and to block illicit terrorist financing.

ISIS propaganda has gained ground in the Philippines in the past months, with militants based on its southern areas such as Abu Sayyaf expressing support for the group's campaign in the Middle East.

The Abu Sayyaf group released German hostages after threatening to behead them unless a ransom was paid. The group had also demanded the withdrawal of German support for the US-led air strikes against ISIS.

Kerry, moreover, is expected to discuss with Southeast Asian leaders areas that will ensure that the region is "immune" to ISIS' proselytizing efforts, the official said.

He added that the Washington also hopes that the Philippines and its neighbors will upgrade international efforts to trace and block terrorist money trail.

The department also said that Kerry's visit reinforces American President Barack Obama's foreign policy pivot to the region. - with a report from the Associated Press

READ: 60% of US navy, air force deployed in Asia Pacific by 2020

ABU SAYYAF AMERICAN ADMIRAL SAMUEL LOCKLEAR AMERICAN PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ASIA ASIA PACIFIC ASSOCIATED PRESS ISLAMIC STATE MIDDLE EAST SOUTHEAST ASIA SOUTHEAST ASIAN
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