Southeast Asia's foreign ministers have responded positively to a proposal from Beijing that regular talks between Asean, the mainland, Japan and South Korea be expanded to include moves to combat terrorism. The suggestion, floated yesterday at a summit in Brunei, came as the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations put the final touches to an anti-terrorism pact that it wants to seal with Washington today or tomorrow. In addition, Asean ministers yesterday wrapped up a two-day ministerial-level session with a communique that reaffirmed the group's tough stance against terrorism and stressed the need for greater economic integration. The flurry of activity has been generated by the two-day Asean Ministerial Meeting, which ended yesterday, and preparations for today's Asean Regional Forum, Asia's premier talking shop for security-related issues. Beijing 's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters: 'Now there are many types of co-operation mechanisms in the world . . . Anti-terrorism is something everyone is concerned about. It's not a problem any one country can resolve on its own.' The China proposal came at a meeting yesterday between Asean foreign ministers and their counterparts from Beijing, Tokyo and South Korea under the so-called Asean-plus-three format. It will be ratified formally when leaders from all 13 states meet for their next summit, set to be held in Phnom Penh in November. Singapore Foreign Minister Shanmugam Jayakumar said the mainland proposal had received broad support. 'There was a prevailing view at the meeting that although the focus is on economic co-operation, we should also explore other areas, and one specific proposal which gained support was that Asean and plus-three countries should co-operate in the area of transnational crime and terrorism,' he said. Beijing's move to extend the scope of the plus-three format with Asean underscores the fact that China does not want Washington to monopolise moves to combat terrorism in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Still, both the US-Asean pact and the Asean ministerial communique represent a boost for US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who arrived in the sultanate late yesterday ahead of the forum. Mr Powell's trip has taken him to South Asia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore in his quest to bolster support for Washington's efforts to combat terrorism. The US remains concerned about terrorist activity in the region, as are Asean governments. As had been expected, Asean's ministerial communique committed Asean to taking 'concerted efforts and concrete initiatives' against terrorism, which they described as 'a global threat'. The communique also recognised a need to reform the 23-member regional forum, which has been criticised as too unwieldy to be fully effective. Although it said the gathering was the 'key forum for political and security dialogue in the Asia Pacific region', it added that there may be a need for expansion. At present, the Asean Regional Forum brings together the 10 Asean states, plus 'dialogue partners' the United States, China, Russia, the European Union, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Representatives from North Korea and Mongolia also attend.