A regional drug-busting agency will be set up to tackle narcotics trafficking in the ASEAN plus three region by sharing information, preventing crimes and suppressing drug-related activities.

“The proposed ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Centre (ASEAN-Narco) will be based at the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) in Bangkok’s Phya Thai district,” secretary-general of the ONCB Permpong Chaovalit was quoted as saying by The Nation daily today.

The participating countries would discuss the establishment of this centre, said Chaovalit, while presiding over the opening ceremony of the ASEAN plus three (China, Japan and South Korea) workshop, said.

The project is to be divided into three phases, he said.

The first phase will focus on building a network among countries to secure information, create an “ASEAN Drug Report” and set an agenda for resolutions.

The second phase will develop cooperation, so that countries could set guidelines for information linkage as well as related procedure and coordination to ensure sustainability and consistency.

The last phase will develop a database to help monitor and continuously develop cooperation among countries, which would lead to the establishment of a “Centre of Excellence”, Chaovalit said.

ASEAN plus three cooperation institutionalised in 1999 when the Leaders issued a Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation at their Third ASEAN plus three Summit in Manila.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a political and economic organisation of 10 Southeast Asian countries which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. –Press Trust of India