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David Cameron and Indonesian president agree measures against IS extremism

Published 26/07/2015

David Cameron is visiting South East Asia on a four-day tour
David Cameron is visiting South East Asia on a four-day tour

David Cameron and Indonesian president Joko Widodo have agreed a package of measures to counter the "shared enemy" of Islamic State (IS) extremism.

The Prime Minister promised British help to increase security at airports in Bali and Jakarta and around 50 Indonesian police officers will be trained in counter-terrorism techniques in the UK.

Speaking at the presidential palace in Jakarta, Mr Cameron said IS, also known as Isil, was an "evil threat" faced by both nations.

His comments came after he indicated he could take military action against Islamic State in Libya or Syria if there was an imminent threat to British lives.

Fears have grown in recent weeks about IS's activities in Libya following reports that Seifeddine Rezgui, the gunman who carried out the Tunisian beach resort massacre, trained at a terror camp in the country.

The Prime Minister indicated he wanted to work with allies to establish a stable government in Libya. "We should be working and are working with other partners to help the new Libyan government as it gets formed. So that's helping with advice and support and capacity-building in their government departments," he said.

"The problem in Libya has been they haven't had a government that has been able to deliver, and that should be our focus. That is why, for instance, we tried helping with training military personnel, so we should go on doing all of these things."

Although a military campaign is not being proposed by the UK against IS targets in Libya, Mr Cameron indicated he would be prepared to act if it was necessary in an emergency.

He said that "if there is a threat to Britain, to our people, our streets, and we are able to stop it by taking immediate action against that threat - I'm the British Prime Minister, I would always want to try and take that action and that's the case whether that problem is emanating from Libya, from Syria or anywhere else".

Mr Cameron told reporters accompanying him on his tour of south-east Asia: "What I have said with respect to Libya, or indeed anywhere else, is if there is a plot under way where I believe British citizens are in danger of being targeted, if it's possible to take action to stop that, I would.

"That is legal, that is right, that is proper and that's the role of the Prime Minister."

The Prime Minister said: "We are both concerned about the threat from Isil and are determined to defeat these terrorists.

"We have agreed to step up our joint efforts both to tackle the terrorist threat and to counter the extremist narrative.

"The UK will provide a package of counter-terrorist support; this will include beefing up security at airports in Bali and Jakarta, enhanced co-operation on terrorism investigations, and training for 50 Indonesian counter-terrorism officers in the United Kingdom.

"Alongside this, Britain will seek to learn from Indonesia's approach to countering extremism, with an exchange programme between religious and community leaders here and in the UK to foster a better understanding of what works."

The threat posed by IS will be also be discussed later in Mr Cameron's tour of south-east Asia with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak amid fears the group is seeking to establish a stronghold in the region.

IS - also known as Isil - and other terror groups have been pumping out propaganda in local languages and their support is thought to be growing.

Around 500 people from Indonesia - which has the world's largest Muslim population - and 200 from Malaysia are thought to have joined IS in Iraq and Syria.

There are also fears about the release of Islamist terrorists locked up in Indonesia following the Bali bombing and, in a sign of the growing influence of the group, Indonesian extremist leader Abu Bakar Bashir has pledged allegiance to IS.

The main focus of Mr Cameron's four-day tour of Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia will be on boosting trade links with the region.

After his talks with President Widodo, the PM said: "The UK is the fifth largest foreign investor into Indonesia. We are natural business partners but there is much more that we can do.

"As Indonesia seeks to grow and develop it can benefit from British expertise, whether that's our leading engineering and energy companies helping to deliver the president's ambitious plans for infrastructure, or British brands like Marks & Spencer or Debenhams meeting the demands of Indonesian consumers, or our first-class universities providing education and research opportunities."

Among the deals signed between the two Governments was an agreement for close co-operation between their space agencies.

Later, Mr Cameron became the first British Prime Minister to visit the Jakarta headquarters of the south-east Asian trade bloc Asean, where he met secretary-general Le Luong Minh.

British officials said the support could involve extra security equipment being installed in the main international airports in Bali and Jakarta.

"We will work with them to look at the security they have in place at Bali and Jakarta and whether, if they need more protective security equipment, then we would look at how we can support them on that," a source said.

"So you are basically talking about more things like airport scanners and that sort of kit.

"Alongside that, we will be looking at how they go about their counter-terror investigations and is there any practical support or experience we can bring to how they do that, looking at how we co-operate on intelligence, the experience of conducting investigations.

"The training of the 50 Indonesian police officers we hope will get under way next year."

The third part of the plan will see around 20 religious and community leaders from Indonesia come to the UK this year to exchange information on tackling extremism, with more expected in future.

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