Wednesday, March 10, 2010

US will continue to help police Straits of Malacca

The United States Government wants to continue providing assistance to littoral states to secure the Straits of Malacca. This follows recent information from its intelligence network on possible terrorist threats along the straits.

US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell said the state took an active role to provide support to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia on the issue.

“We think that cooperation is very strong. We think those states are in a lead and we want to continue to provide as much assistance,” he told reporters after the Second Senior Officials Dialogue with the Malaysian Foreign Ministry here today. Campbell said the matter was also discussed during his visit to Singapore recently.

Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore recently raised terror alerts after the International Maritime Bureau piracy reporting centre was alerted by a foreign agency over a terror threat against ships using the straits.

According to the bureau, while piracy threats were common, a terror threat against ships was new to the waterway, which is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Meanwhile, asked to comment on Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial, Campbell said the previous statement made by US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry stood for itself.

“What we are looking for is an impartial application of laws. Malaysia is a country of laws. Obviously, we are watching developments to this trial very closely,” he said.

Meanwhile, Campbell said the US-Malaysia relations were on the verge of substantial improvement, whereby steps were taken in the last several months on a number of issues, including trade and counter-terrorism.

He said discussions with Malaysian officials had also agreed on specific visits and engagements to take place.

“I think both sides now acknowledge that the two countries can take substantial steps in times ahead, to improve our relationship and I look forward very much to helping and assisting the process,” he said.

Campbell said there was also some interest on Malaysia’s part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as well as a strong desire among Southeast Asia countries for the US to continue to play a strong and confident role in the economic activity of the region.

“They look to us to continue to take steps in the TPP and I think we want very much to be able to fulfil that hope,” he added.

On the Myanmar election laws that bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in polls this year, Campbell said by far, it was “disappointing and regrettable”.

“We want her to play an active role in the political life of the country going forward, and we stand by our continuing statements about her being released and allowed to play an active and full role inside the country,” he said. — Bernama

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