KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will continue engaging the United States and China over their military presence in the South China Sea, says Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.
"The presence and display of military might by China and US in the South China Sea is very worrying.
"As such, we will intensify our dialogues and diplomacy with China and US to avoid the area being turned into a war zone," he said when replying a question by Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican in Parliament Monday (July 30).
Asked by Hassan Abdul Karim (PH-Pasir Gudang) on the presence of nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships along the Straits of Malacca, Mohamad said that such naval vessels were permitted to pass through.
"If they want to pass through, that can be discussed.
"But we will not allow it if they want to hold joint military exercises or dock their vessels here as it may bring conflict to the region," he said.
He noted that safety along the Straits is crucial as it is the busiest waterway in the world with some 100,000 ships passing through it in every year.
Earlier, Mohamad Sabu told lawmakers that Malaysia decided to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia, following the safe repatriation of Malaysians who wanted to return home from Yemen.
"The mission has been accomplished and there is no need for our armed forces to be in Saudi Arabia.
"We do not want to get involved in any conflict between neighbours," he said.
However, he added that Malaysia would continue to strengthen military ties with Saudi Arabia.
He added that Malaysia would only send its armed troops abroad, if requested, under the auspices of the United Nations' peacekeeping force.
At present, Mohamad Sabu said that there were 800 armed forces personnel based in Lebanon under the UN.
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