Talks focus on boosting bilateral relations
KUALA LUMPUR: Bilateral relations, trade-related matters, terrorism and international issues of mutual concern were discussed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and visiting United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson here on Tuesday.
Tillerson kicked off his two-day working visit to Malaysia with a meeting with Najib at the latter’s office in Parliament after he landed at an air base on the outskirts here.
The 50-minute meeting, a signal of affirmation of the commitment by the US under President Donald Trump’s administration to strengthen bilateral ties, was attended by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and US ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir.
Tillerson has been in this region since Aug 5.
He travelled to Manila, the Philippines, to take part in several regional meetings, including the Asean Regional Forum and the US-Asean Ministerial Meeting.
He was in Thailand prior to his visit to Malaysia.
Yesterday, security issues, including human trafficking and bilateral relations between Malaysia and the US, were among the issues discussed between Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Tillerson.
Zahid said during the 40minute meeting with Tillerson, they talked about security developments and regional and international issues of common interest.
“Hopefully, interaction between leaders of both countries could strengthen bilateral relations and be a catalyst to enhancing ties and understanding between Malaysia and the US,” he said at Parliament here yesterday.
Tillerson, who is on a two-day
working visit to Malaysia, is the first US high-ranking official under Trump’s administration to visit the country since being appointed secretary of state on Feb 1.
On combating threats of transborder crime, including human trafficking, Zahid said Malaysia needed to forge a cooperation with its strategic partners, including the US.
He said Malaysia’s initiatives in tackling these issues had been
recognised by the US Department of State in its 2017 Annual Report, which had placed Malaysia at Level Two.
He said Malaysia achieved Level Two compared with Level Two (Observation) last year as it had shown improvement in terms of criminal prosecution (100 cases this year), as well as enforcement.
“This is the best achievement by Malaysia since it introduced the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Act in 2007,” he said, adding that Malaysia was aiming to achieve Level One in the US Department of State Report for 2020.
On bilateral relations, Zahid said Malaysia and the US had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in addressing transborder crime on July 17, 2012, and another MoU on immigration cooperation on Oct 1, 2014.
“Both parties should apply the two MoUs to promote cooperation in identifying current and future transborder crime, as well as migration and other related issues.”
In combating terrorism, Zahid said Malaysia and the US had signed a document on sharing information on terrorism — Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-6) — on Oct 8, 2015, which listed individuals suspected of being involved in terrorism.
He said Malaysia and the US shared the view that terrorism and extremism should be monitored, especially on social media, to curb the menace.
According to him, the US was Malaysia’s third biggest trade partner, while trade from Malaysia was the 18th biggest to the US last year.
The volume of trade between Malaysia and the US was worth US$32.78 billion (RM141 billion) last year. Bernama
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.