by AZREEN HANI/ pic by BERNAMA
PRIME MINISTER Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has urged all parties to avoid any provocation and arms competition in the region, underscoring the importance of respecting and adhering to the existing laws and diplomatic approaches.
According to Wisma Putra. Ismail had been briefed by the Australian Prime Minister , Scott Morrison on the issue of controversial tripartite cooperation between Australia – United Kingdom – United States known as AUKUS.
“The Malaysian PM expressed concern over this cooperation. This AUKUS is going to catalyse the nuclear weapons race in the Indo-Pacific region. At the same time, it will provoke other powers to also act more aggressively in the region, especially in the South China Sea,” Wisma Putra said in a statement today.
“As a country in ASEAN, Malaysia holds the principle of maintaining ASEAN as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOFPAN).”
Ismail Sabri emphasised the importance of respecting Malaysia’s existing stance and approach to submarines nuclear powers operating in Malaysian waters, including the ones accorded under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – UNCLOS) and the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Agreement (Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone – SEANWFZ).
Both PMs have reached an agreement to renew mutual commitment to maintaining peace and international security, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
Malaysia and Australia also agreed to strengthen cooperation and consultation in various aspects, including in the field of defense under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Partnership.
The issue of AUKUS – formed by the three nations, which among others aimed to help Australia acquire nuclear- powered submarines had received mixed reactions, particularly from China and France.
According to an AFP report, France on Friday recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia in a ferocious row over the scrapping of a submarine contract, an unprecedented step that revealed the extent of French anger against its allies.
President Emmanuel Macron made the exceptional decision due to the “gravity of the announcements on September 15 by Australia and the United States”, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement.
The rare diplomatic backlash against France’s allies came two days after Australia announced the scrapping of a major purchase of French conventional submarines in favour of US nuclear-powered submarines.
The announcement represented “unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners”, said the statement.
Beijing reportedly described the new alliance as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability, questioning Australia’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and warning the Western allies that they risked “shooting themselves in the foot”.