Mark of respect: Hagel and Hishammuddin walking through a Honour Cordon at the Pentagon.
KUALA LUMPUR: The United States is increasing its bilateral military training exercises with Malaysia to strengthen regional defence capabilities.
Praising the country’s contribution towards regional security, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said Malaysia was an important partner for the United States in South-East Asia.
“Malaysia has contributed much towards regional security and defence, either on its own or via collaboration with its Asean partners,” said Hagel, after his meeting with Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein at the Pentagon in Washington on Saturday.
It was Hishammuddin’s first visit to the United States as Defence Minister.
The two men discussed a range of international security issues, including Afghanistan, North Korea, and the role of Asean in addressing regional security stability.
The secretary and the minister also talked about improving their defence relationship, including bilateral exercise and training opportunities and exploring defence trade cooperation.
Hishammuddin said bilateral military training and exercise would be increased to strengthen defence collaboration between the two countries, adding that it was important to build confidence in defence capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.
The two defence leaders are expected to meet again during an informal US-Asean meeting in Hawaii in April.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin also held talks with Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, who is a senior member in the US military services committee.
Reed had, in 2002, voted against Resolution 114 to empower then President George Bush to attack Iraq.
Hishammuddin and Reed discussed regional security issues, as well as the impact of economic development on the stability of other nations.