PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and the United States have entered a new phase in their bilateral relationship with both committed to work closer on the economy, security, education and science and technology.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country had provided a boost to the already strong relationship.
“We have set the stage for a new phase in Malaysia-US ties, one based on greater cooperation needed to face challenges of our times.
“Together, we will lay a firm foundation for further cooperation. We are closer now than ever before,” he said at a joint press conference with Obama at Seri Perdana here yesterday after their delegation-level talks.
Prior to the meeting, Najib and Obama held a four-eyed discussion that lasted over 30 minutes.
Malaysia, Najib said, welcomed the United States’ contribution to peace, stability and prosperity in Asia.
“Our continents share an ocean; we should be connected by a common policy, too. We believe all parties should share in Asia’s remarkable growth story, provided they also share a commitment to the peace upon which it depends,” he said, adding that Malaysia had always been a bridge between peoples and cultures.
“We have long known the benefit of cooperation across borders and recognised the power of shared prosperity,” he stressed.
Najib said Malaysia’s relationship with the US was valued as the country prepared to assume the chairmanship of Asean and its bid for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations’ Security Council.
Najib also said Malaysia had played its role in the fight against terrorism by denying Al-Qaeda and its affiliates a possible foothold in the southern Philippines.
On the South China Sea issues, Najib said he and Obama stressed the importance of upholding universally recognised principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
At the start of the conference, Najib took the opportunity to elaborate on the long-standing Malaysia-US ties, with the establishment of diplomatic relations on the day of Malaysia’s independence in 1957.
Referring to the first visit by an American president to Malaysia in 1966, Najib said: “Today, Mr President, you see not rubber trees as Lyndon B. Johnson did, but soaring skyscrapers.
“They are testament to the transformation that’s taking place here in Malaysia.
“On this journey, we’re thankful for the United States’ hand of friendship,” he said.