Gates Arrives in Malaysia to Bolster Closer Bilateral Ties

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Nov. 9, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates arrived here today to acknowl­edge con­tri­bu­tions Malaysia is mak­ing in the imme­di­ate region and beyond and to explore ways to broad­en the two coun­tries’ mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship.

Arriv­ing here from the Australia‑U.S. Min­is­te­r­i­al Con­sul­ta­tions in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, where he focused on expand­ing an already-robust bilat­er­al mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship, Gates now will focus on a grow­ing part­ner­ship.

Dur­ing meet­ings with Prime Min­is­ter Najib Razak and Defense Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Zahid Hamid, Gates is expect­ed to laud Malaysia’s con­tri­bu­tions in the coun­ter­pro­lif­er­a­tion, coun­tert­er­ror­ism and mar­itime secu­ri­ty are­nas, as well as glob­al human­i­tar­i­an and peace­keep­ing mis­sions, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell told reporters.

Gates also will express thanks for Malaysia’s new role in Afghanistan, he said. Malaysia recent­ly deployed a 40-mem­ber med­ical unit, which is serv­ing along­side New Zealand medics in Bamiyan province and pro­vid­ing med­ical and den­tal ser­vices to local Afghans.

Malaysian For­eign Min­is­ter Ani­fah Aman, talk­ing to reporters with Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton dur­ing her vis­it here last week, expressed pride in his country’s new Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force mis­sion in Afghanistan. “Malaysia is proud to stand with the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty in sup­port of a sta­ble and peace­ful Afghanistan,” he said.

A senior defense offi­cial trav­el­ing with Gates told reporters the Afghanistan mis­sion is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Malaysia’s con­cert­ed effort to reach out and engage with the Unit­ed States and oth­er region­al part­ners.

“Malaysia has tak­en great pains, espe­cial­ly under Prime Min­is­ter Ani­fah, to … work toward a lot of the com­mon inter­ests,” he said. “They have real­ly demon­strat­ed that they under­stand the impor­tance of work­ing togeth­er, of coop­er­at­ing, and serv­ing these com­mon inter­ests. … We have seen a lot of progress in a very short amount of time.”

Gates and his Malaysian hosts will dis­cuss ways to expand on that progress and iden­ti­fy areas where their mil­i­taries can work more close­ly and effec­tive­ly in sup­port region­al and glob­al mis­sions, he said.

Gates’ vis­it here, just a week after Clinton’s, demon­strates the Unit­ed States’ great appre­ci­a­tion for this evolv­ing bilat­er­al rela­tion­ship, which Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Najib agreed to build on dur­ing their meet­ing in April, the offi­cial said.

Clin­ton became the first sec­re­tary of state to vis­it here in 15 years, except to attend inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ences. While in Kuala Lumpur, she praised Malaysia, a mod­er­ate, pre­dom­i­nant­ly Mus­lim nation that rejects extrem­ism. She also urged clos­er ties on issues rang­ing from trade, edu­ca­tion and sci­ence to non­pro­lif­er­a­tion and the Afghanistan mis­sion. Ani­fah, speak­ing with Clin­ton at a news con­fer­ence dur­ing her vis­it, said Malaysia wel­comes increased U.S. engage­ment in Malaysia and the broad­er South­east Asia.

“We know that much of the his­to­ry of the 21st cen­tu­ry will be writ­ten in this region, because it is the cen­ter of so many of the world’s great­est oppor­tu­ni­ties and biggest chal­lenges,” Clin­ton said. “So the Unit­ed States is com­mit­ted to strength­en­ing our ties and we are par­tic­u­lar­ly enthu­si­as­tic about deep­en­ing, broad­en­ing, and strength­en­ing our rela­tion­ship with Malaysia.”

Gates hopes to build on that progress and explore new areas for secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion, Mor­rell said, call­ing Gates’ vis­it here “anoth­er sig­nal of our deep­en­ing rela­tion­ship with Malaysia.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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