Saifuddin raises Malaysia’s concern on potential arms race in AUKUS to US secretary

By ASILA JALIL / Pic by BERNAMA

Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah discussed regional and international issues including the trilateral security partnership of  Australia, United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) during his recent phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday.

In a statement, the ministry said both ministers are determined to continue the momentum of strong bilateral relations between both countries in multifaceted areas including health and security, as well as trade and investment.

“They also discussed international and regional issues, which included among others, the AUKUS, the situations in Myanmar and Afghanistan, and the South China Sea,” it said.

Saifuddin, according to the statement, raised Malaysia’s concern over potential escalation of the arms race in the region. He reiterated Malaysia’s firm commitment to maintaining ASEAN as the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN)

The Minister also reiterated the call for all concerned parties to respect and comply with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the ASEAN’s Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty.

Saifuddin also expressed the Malaysian government’s appreciation for the contribution of one million doses of Pfizer vaccine from the US government that were delivered in July, and the USD800,000 financial aid via the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent in support of Malaysia’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

It noted the US had also been extending various other assistance and contributions worth USD2.85 million to Malaysia since the outbreak took place.

“Both Foreign Ministers expressed commitment to maintaining continuous engagement between the two countries, including exchange of visits to capitalise on vast potentials of the Malaysia-US Comprehensive Partnership,” it added.

Last month, Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has urged all parties to avoid any provocation and arms competition in the region, highlighting the importance of respecting and adhering to the existing laws and diplomatic approaches.

According to Wisma Putra, Ismail Sabri had been briefed by the Australian PM Scott Morrison on the issue of controversial tripartite cooperation.

The move by Australia, US and UK has raised concerns in Asia as the cooperation also aims to help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, among others.