HONOLULU: Asean defence ministers said Malaysia has done its level best in responding to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and subsequent efforts to locate the missing plane.
"We believe that Malaysia has done its level best in its response to this unprecedented predicament given the sheer scale of the search and rescue (SAR) operation, the biggest and most complex we've ever seen," they said.
The ministers stressed that Asean's unity remained solid and the 10-member group of Southeast Asian nations was totally committed to assisting Malaysia in coordinating the massive SAR operation to find MH370.
"We are resolute in finding closure on this tragic chapter in aviation history," they said in a joint statement on MH370 issued here, where they are gathered for the first United States-Asean Defence Ministers Forum convened by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Malaysia was represented at the Hawaii gathering by Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
The Asean defence ministers acknowledged the participation of Asean member states in the search operations, directly or indirectly, since the Boeing 777-ER200 aircraft with 239 people on board went missing on March 8.
"From the South China Sea, the Andaman Sea and now to the Indian Ocean, Asean has continued to assist in every possible way, true to the spirit of regional cooperation and friendship without any hesitation in sharing information, assets and expertise," they said.
The Asean group comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The ministers took the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment for greater cooperation between member nations, especially in the field of disaster management under the framework of the Asean Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.
"This incident stressed upon us the importance of information and resource sharing as we strive to be in the utmost state of readiness in mitigating potential calamities and risks," they said.
Expressing their deepest sympathies to the family members of the passengers and crew aboard Flight MH370, they said: "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families in these difficult times."
The Beijing-bound Malaysian jetliner vanished mid-flight over the South China Sea about one hour after taking off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8.
It was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6.30am the same day.
The massive international hunt for the aircraft, which is believed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean, is being conducted west of Perth, Australia. – Bernama