NEW YORK: Britain has conveyed to Malaysia its wish to continue ties with Asean following the country’s decision to leave the European Union, says Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
He said this was raised by Britain during Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s bilateral meeting with his British counterpart Theresa May.
The bilateral meeting with May was one of three meetings which Dr Mahathir had with international leaders.
The other two leaders which the Prime Minister held bilateral meetings on Wednesday (Sept 26) here were Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
Saifuddin said May conveyed Britain’s desire to continue ties with Asean.
“Following their decision to no longer be with the EU, they wish for some form of cooperation be done between them and Asean,” Saifuddin told Malaysian media here.
Saifuddin said Dr Mahathir responded to May by saying that the matter would be discussed first with Asean before any decision can be made.
“However, we respect and feel that the fact that the UK PM referred to Malaysia as an Asean member to state their desire is an honour to Malaysia in Asean,” said Saifuddin.
He said Malaysia on its part raised ways to increase cooperation, especially hoping that Britain can help our efforts to handle the palm oil issue in Europe.
On Dr Mahathir’s bilateral meeting with the Iranian President, Saifuddin said the Iranian leader asked for Malaysia’s understanding and support on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Iran nuclear deal.
Saifuddin said the matter was becoming more complex due to unilateral action by the United States which may impose more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.
The Foreign Minster said Malaysia was sympathetic to the problem faced by Iran as it also involved Malaysian companies operating there, specifically Petronas.
“The Prime Minister at the same time asked for the cooperation of Iran relating to giving assistance and facilitation to Malaysian companies investing in Iran such as Petronas.”
On Dr Mahathir’s bilateral meeting with Sri Lanka, Saifuddin said both leaders exchanged views on their experiences developing the economy in both countries.