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Anwar calls for common SCS position among ASEAN members

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is calling for more high-level sessions among ASEAN leaders to discuss their respective takes on the South China Sea and push for a common position that will not necessarily increase tension, especially with China that is entirely claiming the whole waters.

Like the Philippines, Malaysia is claiming part of the South China Sea. Three more ASEAN members are in the same scenario: Indonesia, Brunei and Vietnam.

In an interview with ANC on Friday, Anwar said he and President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. both agree that ASEAN leaders must explore high-level sessions—a multilateral one—so that “we take a calm, common position where the Chinese are willing to discuss.”

The two leaders raised their concerns on the South China Sea, which Anwar said is “quite contentious because of the position we have with China,” during their meeting at the Malacañan Palace. Ibrahim arrived in Manila on Wednesday for a two-day official visit.

“Both of us agree that the mechanism should be bilateral and multilateral to try and engage with the Chinese, and to take a position that is…towards dialogue, and because we are dealing with neighbors,” the Malaysian leader said.

With discussion of a joint between the Philippines and the US in the South China Sea, Anwar said they have never argued Washington’s military presence.

“Our views should be avoided because that would then provoke and escalate tension,” Anwar said.

“We want to preserve ASEAN as zone of peace and neutrality and freedom, of course. So which means we will have to continue to engage with the Chinese and with the US,” he added.

But Anwar said ASEAN must be disconcerting if the West starts showing the military might and present within the regional bloc.

“We have to strongly guard ourselves,” he said. — Joseph Pedrajas

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph


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