Malaysia to discuss Sulu Sea security issues with neighbours

KLUANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The defence ministers of Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia will be meeting in Bali next week to discuss security issues in regards to the Sulu Sea.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein is scheduled to meet his counterparts from the two countries on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the Sulu Sea Patrol Initiative (SSPI).

The initiative comprises joint air patrols, coordinated naval patrols and exchange of military intelligence between the three countries to fight maritime crime and terrorism in the Sulu Sea.

It aims to emulate the success of the Malacca Strait Sea Patrol (MSSP), which has reduced piracy, robbery, kidnapping and smuggling in the busy waterway since 2004.

The waterway located off the southern Philippines has recently been hit by spate of kidnappings of dozens of Indonesian and Malaysian sailors that have been blamed on the Abu Sayyaf militant group.

"We will discussing the matter in detail to strengthen the cooperation between the three countries in tackling the security issues along the coastline," Mr Hishammuddin said on Saturday.

"They (Philippines and Indonesia) can be our additional eyes and ears as we monitor the coastlines together," he told reporters.