LONDON: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his British counterpart Theresa May have reaffirmed the strong ties between Malaysia and the United Kingdom, which pre-dated and have continued since Malaysia's independence 60 years ago.
In a statement issued after their meeting at the UK Prime Minister's Office at 10, Downing Street here on Thursday, Najib said, "In addition to our shared values and history, the UK is seeking a new relationship with friends and partners around the world as it leaves the European Union (EU).
"Malaysia is well positioned to add value, strategically located at the heart of South-East Asia, with strong links to the Muslim world and China," he said in the statement.
The meeting which began slightly after 5pm, lasted for 40 minutes.
Najib said as an outward-looking trading nation which the World Bank recently said was facing the future "from a position of strength", Malaysia welcomed the opportunity to have a closer economic partnership with the UK.
"I assured Prime Minister May that Malaysia will be happy to discuss setting up a trade arrangement between our two countries as soon as possible. We know that trade between our countries will benefit our economies and our peoples," he added.
Najib also said the UK and Malaysia were united on the need to fight terrorism and violent extremism.
"We mourn the deaths of those who have died in the recent appalling attacks in the UK. Malaysia is ready to share its expertise and experience in combating the threat from those who blaspheme the name of Islam by falsely claiming that their atrocities are Islamic," he said.
He said he also discussed with the UK Prime Minister, the humanitarian catastrophe facing the Rohingya in Myanmar and both leaders agreed that the international community must come together to find a solution to end the crisis that had shocked both the region and the world.
"Britain and Malaysia are old partners. My discussions with Prime Minister May confirmed the depth of our friendship, and we look forward to our two countries working together to forge a prosperous and secure future for our peoples."
At the media conference with Malaysian journalists outside 10 Downing Street, Najib said they had also touched on a number of issues on bilateral relations and international issues.
"Firstly, I stated as regards to UK's post Brexit planning, that Malaysia was ready to consider whatever proposals they made towards further strengthening economic ties, especially boosting trade and investment with Malaysia; since they will be exiting from the EU, surely they will need a new formula in terms of economic relations with the world, and Malaysia is a country with its own strength and with this strength we can certainly add value to UK post Brexit's future," he added.
Najib said May welcomed the proposal, and he anticipates more meetings to be held between them at the appropriate time.
"Secondly, our traditional relations in defence, counter terrorism remain; in fact we will further reinforce aspects that would enable us to successfully combat the threat of terrorism, extremism and so on.
"We also had a discussion about the (Eurofighter) typhoon multi role combat aircraft. Malaysia is not ready to make any decision on it at this point.
"Thirdly, I also highlighted the Rohingya issue where the UK Prime Minister stated their wish for it to be resolved and the conflict ended even though there are challenges.
"I also received assurance from the UK Prime Minister on humanitarian assistance for the Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar and Rakhine State, that these people would be assisted by the international community."
Asked about the significance of his meetings with May, and US President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday, Najib replied, "Very very significant because these superpowers recognise and accept Malaysia as a significant global player and our views are noted and given serious consideration."
Najib arrived here Thursday from Washington DC after ending his three-day official visit on the invitation of Trump whom he met on Tuesday. - Bernama