KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein stressed on ASEAN’s increasingly challenged leadership at the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-53) today, stating that the region aims to remain as its own masters with the sole purpose of ensuring peace and stability.

Hishammuddin, who joined the meeting via video conference from Putrajaya, said the way ASEAN approach the issues of leadership within its borders and dealings with each other can either result in disaster or a new dawn of peace and stability for the region.

Delivering his intervention at the meeting, the Foreign Minister also touched on several issues including the developments in the South China Sea, the Rakhine State, and Palestine.

Speaking on the South China Sea, the Foreign Minister said Malaysia remains firm in its commitment to safeguard its sovereignty, sovereign rights, and interests in the area.

“As Malaysia has consistently stated, the South China Sea issue must be managed and resolved in a rational manner, through dialogue and consultations, utilising the appropriate fora and diplomatic channels,” he said at the session chaired by Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

All parties also must refrain from undertaking activities that would complicate matters in the South China Sea and that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers must look at all avenues and approaches to ensure the region is not complicated further by other powers, he added.

Meanwhile, touching on the developments in Rakhine State, Hishammuddin said the spillover effects of the crisis continues to affect other countries in the region, including Malaysia.

He added that the transnational crimes of illegal people smuggling and trafficking in persons of Rohingya in the region requires utmost attention by all ASEAN Member States, especially the littoral States to the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca.

“ASEAN Member States must realise that people smuggling and trafficking in persons of Rohingya are also conducted throughout respective Member States’ territories and as such, only with the full cooperation of ASEAN Member States will this matter be addressed effectively and swiftly,” he said.

Hishammuddin also said that Malaysia supports a repatriation process which is voluntary, safe and dignified.

Speaking on Palestine, the Foreign Minister said Malaysia regrets and are disappointed by the lack of progress in resuming the peace talks between Palestine and Israel.

“Malaysia will continue to monitor Israel’s recent announcement to suspend its plan to annex parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the West Bank. Malaysia will not be disillusioned by this current development as Israel has made it clear that the decision is temporary. It is clear that Israel still has the intention to carry out the annexation plan,” he said.

Hishammuddin emphasised that Malaysia’s position on the matter is that the only viable solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is through the two-State solution, based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the Capital of Palestine.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister also said that Malaysia commends the current UN Security Council members for their continued efforts in leading up to the adoption of the Security Council resolution 2532 on Global Ceasefire on 1 July 2020.

Malaysia, he said, is fully committed to multilateralism in advancing regional as well as global peace, security and prosperity, and hoped that the initiative would pave the way for the end of hostilities and sustained peace throughout the world.

The AMM-53 and related meetings kicked-off today until Saturday, with discussions on COVID-19 set to be one of the main agenda together with the preparation for the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in November.

At the end of the AMM-53, the Foreign Ministers are expected to adopt several outcome documents, including the 53rd AMM Joint Communiqué.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN comprises 10 countries – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.


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