Bali, Oct. 7: Terrorism was very much on the mind when Bali today sought Delhi’s help in boosting its tourism even as India prepared to sign a joint declaration with Asean to fight terror.
Tourism to the Indonesian resort island of Bali was hit after terror bomb blasts last year that killed over 200 people. Its economy, dependent on tourism, is yet to recover fully.
Bali governor Deva Made Beratha met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee this afternoon and discussed the terrorist bombings on the island.
Though he claimed tourism was picking up, he expressed the hope that Indians would make Bali a destination and sought the Indian government’s help to realise this goal.
The request came as India was preparing to sign the joint declaration tomorrow, signalling its resolve to integrate more with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and showing determination to fight terrorism.
The declaration will emphasise information exchange, training of personnel and building of capacity between both sides for closer understanding in the fight against terror.
The need to unitedly fight terror figured in Vajpayee’s separate meetings with Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.
Arroyo said her country was not ambiguous on dealing with terrorism.
“When we see it (terrorism), we recognise it,” she said. Her remarks went down well with the Indians as these showed that more and more Southeast Asian countries were now resolved to put up a strong and sincere fight against terror.
India will soon sign an extradition treaty with the Philippines to combat both terror and crime. With Singapore, India is expected to seal a deal on comprehensive economic cooperation in April next year.
Unlike the other countries, Malaysia and Brunei have in the past diluted a united stand at international fora on defining terrorism by emphasising “root causes” and “freedom struggle”.
Both countries, along with the Arab world, had cited the Palestinian cause to block moves to define terrorism and also hindered countries like India at the UN from getting the international community to agree to a common position on fighting terror.
The signing of the declaration — which is likely to be similar to that the Asean has signed with the US — is expected to leave little ambiguity in justifying terrorist acts, irrespective of the provocation and justification.
If this is achieved, it will be a big step for India as it prepares to push through a resolution at the UN for a comprehensive convention to combat global terrorism.