Yes to strengthening relations, no to nuclear submarines, PM tells Australia

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pic) reminded his Australian counterpart that Malaysia upholds the principle of preserving the Asean region as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN).

In a phone call to Ismail Sabri on Friday (Sept 17), Australian premier Scott Morrison informed him of the formation of a three-way cooperative relationship between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS), in efforts to assist Australia in obtaining nuclear powered submarines.

"AUKUS could potentially be a catalyst towards a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as provoke other powers to act more aggressively, especially within the South China Sea region," he said in the statement.

Ismail Sabri further stressed the need for respecting and abiding by Malaysia’s stance on nuclear powered submarines being operated under Malaysian waters.

This approach was in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS) and Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ).

Both premiers then reached an understanding towards renewing their commitment in maintaining international peace and security, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region.

"I urge all parties to avoid provocative actions as well as arms races within the region and stress the importance of understanding and abiding by the current measures in place," said Ismail Sabri.

Malaysia and Australia also agreed to strengthen cooperative and consultative efforts over several aspects, which included defence matters under a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

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