Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein presents the Joint Declaration on Maintaining Regional Security and Security and Stability for and by the People to Asean secretary-general Le Luong Minh during the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting. Pix by Danial Saad

LANGKAWI: The 10 defence ministers of the Asean nations today signed a joint declaration focused on strengthening regional security, especially against threats posed by terrorist organisations like the Islamic State (IS).

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, speaking after the signing of the Joint Declaration on Maintaining Regional Security and Security and Stability for and by the People, said there was unanimous agreement among the ministers that IS was a new threat in the region and one which needed monitoring.

"We cannot afford to take this threat lightly... we have agreed that there is a need for greater cooperation to cope with the threat. This is a position that we hold very clear as the ministers responsible for security and stability in our region," he said.

Hishammuddin said he and his counterparts would spare no effort to combat IS.

"We will do whatever it takes, whether sharing intelligence or monitoring progress in countering the IS threat," he said at the end of the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM).

Hishammuddin said ADMM had also touched on recent developments in Asean and had adopted concept papers on the Asean Militaries Ready Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR); guidelines to respond to requests for informal engagements or meetings by ADMM-Plus countries; and the establishment of an Asean Centre for Military Medicine.

The first two, he said, was brought up by Malaysia, while the third was proposed by Thailand.

Hishamuddin said the Asean ministers had agreed to strengthen cooperation in HADR in light of climate change and several instances of natural disasters over the past few years.

"We in Malaysia have not been spared as well so this affects us all," he said, referring to last year's devastating floods.