Malaysia's Najib, Britain's May reaffirm strong ties in meeting at 10, Downing Street

British Prime Minister Theresa May (left) welcomes her Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak, on the steps of No. 10 Downing street in London, Britain, on Sept 14, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (Bernama) - Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his British counterpart Mrs Theresa May have reaffirmed the strong ties between Malaysia and the United Kingdom, which pre-dated and have continued since Malaysia's independence 60 years ago.

In a statement issued after their meeting at the UK Prime Minister's Office at 10, Downing Street, here on Thursday, Datuk Seri Najib said, "In addition to our shared values and history, the UK is seeking a new relationship with friends and partners around the world as it leaves the European Union (EU)."

"Malaysia is well-positioned to add value, strategically located at the heart of South-east Asia, with strong links to the Muslim world and China," he said in the statement.

The meeting which began slightly after 5pm, lasted for 40 minutes. Mr Najib said as an outward-looking trading nation which the World Bank recently said was facing the future from a position of strength , Malaysia welcomed the opportunity to have a closer economic partnership with the UK.

"I assured Prime Minister May that Malaysia will be happy to discuss setting up a trade arrangement between our two countries as soon as possible. We know that trade between our countries will benefit our economies and our peoples," he said.

Mr Najib also said the UK and Malaysia were united on the need to fight terrorism and violent extremism.

He said Malaysia mourns the deaths of those who have died in the recent appalling attacks in the UK, adding that Malaysia is ready to share its expertise and experience in combating the threat.

He said he also discussed with the UK Prime Minister the humanitarian catastrophe facing the Rohingyas in Myanmar and both of them agreed that the international community must come together to find a solution to bring to an end to the crisis that had shocked both the region and the world.

"Britain and Malaysia are old partners. My discussions with Prime Minister May confirmed the depth of our friendship, and we look forward to our two countries working together to forge a prosperous and secure future for our peoples," said Mr Najib.

At the media conference with Malaysian journalists on the grounds Downing Street, after the meeting, Mr Najib said they had also touched on a number of issues on bilateral relations and international issues.

"Firstly, I stated as regards to UK s post-Brexit planning, that Malaysia was ready to consider whatever proposals they made towards further strengthening economic ties, especially boosting trade and investment with Malaysia; since they will be exiting from the EU, surely they will need a new formula in terms of economic relations with the world, and Malaysia is a country with its own strength and with this strength we can certainly add value to the UK's post-Brexit future," he said.

Mr Najib said the UK Prime Minister welcomed the proposal, and he anticipates more meetings to be held between them at the appropriate time. He also said the two countries' traditional relations in defence and counter-terrorism remain, and will be reinforced to enable the countries to successfully combat the threat of terrorism, extremism and so on.

"We also had a discussion about the (Eurofighter) typhoon multi-role combat aircraft. Malaysia is not ready to make any decision on it at this point. Thirdly, I also highlighted the Rohingya issue where the UK Prime Minister stated their wish for it to be resolved and the conflict ended even though there are challenges," he said.

Mr Najib also said he received an assurance from the UK Prime Minister on humanitarian assistance for the Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar and Rakhine State.

Asked about the significance of his meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May, and US President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday, Mr Najib replied, "Very, very significant, because these superpowers recognise and accept Malaysia as a significant global player and our views are noted and given serious consideration including by Donald Trump."

Mr Najib arrived here in London on Thursday from Washington DC after ending a three-day official visit on the invitation of Mr Trump, whom he met on Tuesday.

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