US ready to assist Malaysia in combating terrorism

ISKANDAR PUTERI: The United States is willing to assist Malaysian authorities in relation to the attack on a police station in Ulu Tiram, Johor, says its ambassador to Malaysia, Edgard D. Kagan.

Kagan, who expressed his condolences to the families of the two policemen killed in the incident, said the tragedy is a reminder that the US and Malaysia share common interests in combating terrorism and cannot afford to relax their vigilance.

"This incident is something that can potentially happen in many places around the world. We (the US) remain vigilant and cautious about the people entering our country, and we will continue to do so.”

In the May 17 incident, two policemen - Constable Ahmad Azza Fahmi Azhar, 22, and Constable Muhamad Syafiq Ahmad Said, 24 - were killed by a lone wolf assailant who was shot dead. Another policeman was injured.

"Nevertheless, such an incident does not deter interest from investors nor cause any significant changes for Malaysians travelling to the US,” he told Bernama in an interview during his visit to the Iskandar Regional Development Authority headquarters here recently.

Instead, the US is looking to build on the strong and long-standing security, economic and educational ties with Malaysia.

In strengthening maritime security and maintaining regional peace and stability, Washington, for instance, could work with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Kagan said.

During his visit, the ambassador also paid a courtesy call to the Regent of Johor, Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, at the Bukit Serene Palace in Johor Baru.

Kagan said the US and Malaysia have a strong people-to-people relationship as evidenced by over 5,000 Malaysian students enrolling in US universities at present.

He said about 700 Malaysians have studied in US high schools, and over 1,000 Malaysians have studied under the US Fulbright programme which aimed to improve intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy and intercultural competence between the American people and other countries.

"I think that we're also eager to support more educational exchanges and I would like to see, in addition to Malaysians continuing their studies in the US, more Americans coming here.

"I think there’s a real potential to try and encourage young Americans and American university students to consider studying in Malaysia,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Kagan said the US acknowledged how strongly the people of Malaysia feel about what is happening there.

Washington also shares similar concerns and perspectives, emphasising the urgent need for a ceasefire to ensure peace and to facilitate humanitarian assistance.

He said the US recently completed the construction of a floating pier, which facilitates the delivery of humanitarian assistance into Gaza. This has enabled the entry of aid via trucks.

"It is not enough, but we believe it's a clear step in the right direction to support the people of Gaza at this time. At the same time, we have made it clear to the government of Israel and other governments in the region the importance of taking steps to protect civilians and to achieve a ceasefire," he said.

On the boycott against brands supporting Israel, he said the US recognised the right to peaceful protest as part of democracy but felt that more effective action could have been taken to defend the fate of the Palestinians.

"In our view, it needs to be about being effective. How do you advance the cause of the Palestinian people, how do you support their well-being?” - Bernama

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