Special forces chiefs and counter-terrorism experts from across Asia have converged on a small town outside Sydney to discuss measures to combat terrorism in the region, RFA�s broadcast services report.

Kept a close-guarded secret until just hours before the opening session, the meeting began with an address from Australian Defense Minister Robert Hill.

The Regional Special Forces and Counter-Terrorism Conference included officials from the United State, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. Other nations participating in the meeting were Brunei, Cambodia, India, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

During the meeting, Hill revealed that the Australian government would renew ties with the notorious Indonesian secret police force, Kopassus, which has carried out widespread human rights abuses in Aceh, East Timor, and West Papua.

The commander of Kopassus' special counter-terrorism unit, Detachment 18, attended the 15-nation meeting.

"One can imagine a terrorist scenario in Indonesia where that unit is called upon to respond," Hill said. "In those circumstances we think it is very important that our special forces know who is responding and know their capabilities and be able to offer assistance�it might be in intelligence�to assist them in their task," he said.

Australia halted all cooperation with Kopassus in 1998 following allegations of human rights abuses in Aceh, East Timor and West Papua. But since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States and October 2002 bombing on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, the Australian government has been considering a resumption of joint training. #####


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