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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

ASEAN Leaders Sign Treaty to Fight Terror With U.S.

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell signed a sweeping treaty Thursday with Southeast Asian nations aimed at making the region that has become a second front in the war against terrorism more responsive to future threats.

"This is not a case of Big Brother United States imposing on ASEAN," Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said. "This is something that both ASEAN and the United States want."

Under the agreement, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Washington will share information, boost police cooperation and plug holes that extremists can exploit. It would raise U.S. technical and logistical aid to "prevent, disrupt and combat" international terrorism.

Powell told a news conference that the accord would not be used as a thin excuse to deploy U.S. troops.

Powell said he brings the message to each country he visits that the campaign against terrorism should not be a cover to repress legitimate dissent, a charge leveled by critics in Malaysia and Indonesia.

"If we're going to defeat the terrorists, then we have to attack them from the highest moral plane," Powell said. "Human rights have to be protected."

 The United States will send a senior envoy to North Korea to follow up on a breakthrough meeting with Powell, the North's foreign minister said Thursday.

Paek Nam Sun, who met Powell on Wednesday, said that James Kelly, assistant U.S. secretary of state for Asia, would visit but a date remained to be set.