Aukus pact could provoke powers to act more aggressively: Malaysia PM Ismail

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen during a joint press conference, in Canberra on Sept 16, 2021, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden attending virtually.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen during a joint press conference, in Canberra on Sept 16, 2021, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden attending virtually.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob reminded his Australian counterpart that Malaysia upholds the principle of preserving the Asean region as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (Zopfan).

In a phone call to Datuk Seri Ismail on Friday (Sept 17), Australian premier Scott Morrison informed him of the formation of a three-way cooperative relationship between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (Aukus), in efforts to assist Australia in obtaining nuclear-powered submarines.

"Aukus could potentially be a catalyst towards a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as provoke other powers to act more aggressively, especially within the South China Sea region," he said in the statement.

Mr Ismail further stressed the need for respecting and abiding by Malaysia's stance on nuclear-powered submarines being operated under Malaysian waters.

This approach was in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and South-east Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ).

Both premiers then reached an understanding towards renewing their commitment in maintaining international peace and security, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region.

"I urge all parties to avoid provocative actions as well as arms races within the region and stress the importance of understanding and abiding by the current measures in place," said Mr Ismail.

Malaysia and Australia also agreed to strengthen cooperative and consultative efforts over several aspects, which included defence matters under a comprehensive strategic partnership.