Singapore and Malaysia agree to take steps in de-escalating territorial dispute tensions

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In a meeting between the foreign ministers of Singapore and Malaysia today, January 8, has resulted in an agreement from both parties to scale back on recent airspace and maritime territorial disputes.

A joint statement between the two foreign ministries was released after the meeting between Singapore’s Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan and Malaysia’s Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, the countries’ Foreign Affairs Ministers.

According to the statement, “Both sides reiterated their commitment to preserving the vital relationship between both countries and to improving bilateral ties, on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

They agreed on the importance of keeping the situation on the ground calm to allow discussions to take place in a conducive atmosphere.”

Regarding the airspace dispute, the steps agreed upon are the simultaneous suspension of an area that’s restricted in Pasir Gudang adjacent to Singapore’s border, as well as the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures at Seletar Airport, which Malaysia claimed would affect development in Johor Baru, for at least one month.

The transport ministers of both countries will be meeting “soon” to discuss these issues further.

And concerning the maritime dispute, Malaysia and Singapore have consented to form a working group to facilitate further talks regarding port limits. Singapore claimed last month that Malaysia’s intent to extend its port limits encroached on Singapore’s waters.

This working group will be led by the Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chee Wee Kiong and the Secretary-General of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Muhammad Shahrul Ilra Yaakob and will report to both foreign ministers within 60 days.

Dr. Balakrishnan and Datuk Saifuddin called their meeting “positive and constructive.”

The statement also said, “Both foreign ministers were pleased with the progress made at the meeting, and welcomed the positive steps that both sides had agreed on to move these matters forward in a calm and constructive manner.”

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