ASEAN host warns of threats to Southeast Asia from ′Islamic State′ | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 28.04.2018
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ASEAN host warns of threats to Southeast Asia from 'Islamic State'

Singapore's prime minister warned that "Islamic State" posed a "very real" threat to Southeast Asia. Lee Hsien Loong said although IS had been defeated in Iraq and Syria, the group continued to threaten the region.

Lee Hsien Loong's warning came on Saturday during his opening address at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore. The prime minister also said the ASEAN region could be increasingly targeted by hackers. The bloc has been working to tackle threats from extremism and cyber attackers.

Prime Minister Lee said:

  • The region's move towards digitalization has made it more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
  • "We need to be resilient to both conventional threats and also non-conventional threats such as terrorism and cyberattacks."
  • "The political mood in many countries has shifted against free trade."

Looming trade war

Lee also expressed concern over a mounting trade dispute between the United States and China that has seen both countries impose tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of goods. Analysts have said the situation could escalate into a global trade war. Washington has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion (€123 billion) of Chinese imports.

Read more: Trade war with US would be disastrous

Korean Peninsula: The ASEAN leaders welcomed Friday's historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in as a first step toward reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

What's next? Lee said ASEAN plans to conclude negotiations this year on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN members and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand — to fight protectionism.

Read more: Southeast Asian nations defy Donald Trump's trade protectionism

kw/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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