PUTRAJAYA, April 27 – Malaysia and the United States have affirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, including critical waterways in the South China Sea. This was contained in a joint statement issued following talks between Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and visiting US President Barack Obama here Sunday. “The two leaders underscored the importance of all parties concerned to resolve their territorial and maritime disputes through peaceful means, including international arbitration,” it said. They said the resolution of such disputes should be in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“The two leaders highlighted the importance of all parties concerned to avoid the use of force, intimidation or coercion, and exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities,” it said. The statement said both Najib and Obama recognised the need for Asean and China to work expeditiously towards the establishment of an effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. “The prime minister and the president reaffirmed the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in enhancing mutual trust and confidence among all parties concerned,” it said. China, Taiwan and four Asean countries, namely Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam are involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
On the Malaysia-mooted Global Movement of Moderates, the two leaders appreciated its goals in promoting greater understanding and moderation among people of all faiths by expanding government-to-government and people-to-people engagement. The statement also mentioned that Obama commended Malaysia’s leading role in facilitating the peace process in southern Philippines which led to the recent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. In addition, both leaders reaffirmed the long-standing military-to-military cooperation between Malaysia and the US which provided a solid foundation for enhancements across a broad front. Najib and Obama decided to continue discussions on opportunities for practical future cooperation in the maritime domain, including ways the US could support the development of Malaysia’s maritime enforcement capacity through the provision of training, equipment and expertise.
According to the statement, Obama applauded Malaysia’s troop contributions to peacekeeping in United Nations missions, including in Afghanistan and Lebanon, and thanked Malaysia for its successful deployment of a military medical team in Afghanistan. “Both sides are committed to strengthening cooperation in peacekeeping training under the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) and welcomed US support for the Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Centre,” it said. Najib and Obama welcomed the expansion of ties between the defense industries of both countries, which contributed to Malaysia s economic development. “Both sides are committed to working further to nurture and deepen defence bilateral engagements, including promoting the interoperability between their armed forces,” it said. Obama is on a three-day visit to Malaysia, the first by a sitting American president in nearly 50 years. He is scheduled to leave for the Philippines on Monday.