SEPTEMBER 14 — The President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, hosted the Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Razak, at the White House to strengthen the Comprehensive Partnership between the two countries as they mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations.
The United States and Malaysia share a long history of close cooperation built on economic ties and mutual security interests. The two leaders pledged to continue building upon that relationship through enhanced diplomatic, economic, security, and people-to-people ties. President Trump and Prime Minister Najib recognised the grave threat posed by North Korea to security and stability across the Asia-Pacific region.
The two leaders expressed their concern over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, which are a flagrant violation of the multiple United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and will only further escalate tensions in the region. Both sides reaffirmed their support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the need for the international community to strictly implement UNSC resolutions.
President Trump welcomed Prime Minister Najib’s commitment to go beyond the UNSC resolutions, including through a review of its diplomatic relations and business links with North Korea. The two leaders pledged to nurture the economic ties between the United States and Malaysia to create jobs and opportunities for people in both countries, reflecting a longstanding and substantial trade relationship.
The two countries recognized the importance of regular discussions under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to strengthen the trade relationship by removing barriers in key sectors.
Both sides announced their intent to pursue trade and investment opportunities in the transportation and energy sectors and to address the bilateral trade imbalance.
The two leaders welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Malaysia Airlines Berhad and The Boeing Company for eight new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, purchase rights for eight additional 737 MAX airplanes, and maintenance for the national carrier’s fleet, with a potential total value of US$4 billion. President Trump welcomed the probability of additional purchases of Boeing aircraft in the future.
Both leaders welcomed the involvement of the United States private sector in the development of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project.
The two countries also committed to review regulatory frameworks with the aim of facilitating investment in their respective economies. Prime Minister Najib and President Trump discussed matters relating to the South China Sea and emphasized the importance of ensuring, maintaining, and safeguarding peace and stability, maritime security, freedom of navigation and over-flight, and other lawful uses of the seas.
The two leaders underscored the importance of upholding and adhering to the rules-based maritime order. They called upon all disputing parties to implement their international legal obligations in good faith, and to avoid the threat or use of force, intimidation, or coercion.
They further called on all disputing parties to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and refrain from action that erodes trust and confidence, and escalates tension, including the militarization of outposts.
The two leaders reaffirmed that all maritime claims must be based on and resolved in accordance with international law as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of the strategic partnership between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian States (Asean) and to the continued implementation of the principles decided upon by the leaders of the United States and Asean in the 2016 Sunnylands Declaration.
They affirmed their support for common efforts to develop a rules-based Asean Community, and to maintaining Asean centrality in the evolving regional architecture. The two leaders noted the 50th anniversary of Asean’s founding and the 40th anniversary of relations between the United States and Asean and welcomed commemorative activities. The two leaders pledged to strengthen cooperation to counter the growing threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Southeast Asia. Both leaders re-affirmed the importance of promoting community resilience and mutual respect across religious and ethnic boundaries.
As a partner in the fight against ISIS and a member of the Global Coalition led by the United States, the two leaders noted Malaysia’s pledge of US$1 million (RM4.19 million) for humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS.
The United States recognized Malaysia’s continued progress toward meeting program requirements for the US Visa Waiver Program, including obligations under the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 (HSPD-6) and Preventing and Combatting Serious Crime (PCSC) information sharing arrangements.
Prime Minister Najib announced Malaysia’s commitment to implement its data sharing agreements with the United States and to phased enhancements of passenger screening at all points of entry, and the United States committed to actively work with Malaysia towards this end.
The United States and Malaysia acknowledged that cyber and other crimes often help finance terrorist networks. The countries committed to utilize available multilateral instruments, including the Budapest Convention in order to strengthen domestic legislation and foster international cooperation in combating cybercrime. The United States and Malaysia pledged to strengthen bilateral defence ties. The two leaders underscored the importance of expanding cooperation in priority areas, including maritime security, counterterrorism, and information sharing between our defence and security forces.
They committed to pursue additional opportunities for joint exercises and training. The leaders also underscored the importance of enhancing maritime domain awareness through the development of maritime capabilities such as surveillance, communications, and information-sharing, and expressed their intent to continue discussions on funding of assets through the most effective mechanisms for developing these capabilities in order to advance regional security.
President Trump welcomed Malaysia’s intent to make an additional US$60 million in defence procurements from the United States.
They discussed the need to end the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Both leaders called for an end to the violence targeting civilian populations, and discussed the need for a strong international community response for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been victimized and displaced by violence, including those who have arrived in Bangladesh. Both sides urged the Myanmar government to end the violence against innocents and ensure that humanitarian relief reaches victims immediately.
President Trump and Prime Minister Najib held a constructive discussion about the importance of good governance and the free flow of information to prosperity and a positive business environment. They also discussed the importance of protecting human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
The United States welcomed Malaysia’s commitment to increase prosecutions of human traffickers, as well as expedited assessment with the aim of increasing substantially the number of trafficking victims granted freedom of movement.
The two leaders welcomed continued strong people-to-people ties, especially Fulbright academic exchanges. They recognised the growing number of Malaysian undergraduate and graduate students studying in the United States, now numbering nearly eight thousand.
They expressed anticipation for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding sustaining the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant programme, one of the largest in the world, through 2020. The two leaders discussed their commitment to further strengthening the Comprehensive Partnership to promote peace, stability, prosperity, and international consensus in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.