PUTRAJAYA, Sept 19 — Australia will send its officials to Malaysia to provide further clarification and understanding on the security partnership involving the country, the United Kingdom, and the United States, known by the acronym AUKUS, said Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
In a statement on Sunday, he said the matter was agreed recently during a telephone conversation with his Australian counterpart, Senator Marise Payne.
Saifuddin also called for all parties within the Indo-Pacific region and beyond to strengthen further active cooperation in promoting and sustaining the region as a region of peace, stability, as well as of growth, and prosperity as espoused in the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific.
He shared Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s concerns that the establishment of AUKUS could lead to the escalation of an arms race in the region.
“It could also potentially spark tension among the world superpowers, and aggravate aggression between them in the region, particularly in the South China Sea,” he said.
On Sept. 15, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia unveiled the new security trilateral partnership arrangement AUKUS, where among others Australia will be equipped with a fleet of advanced nuclear-powered submarines. AUKUS has raised concerns over the powerplay and nuclear proliferation in the region.
Saifuddin also reaffirmed the prime minister’s assertion for all concerned parties to respect and comply with existing Malaysia’s national regime under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ASEAN’s Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty and Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Treaty (ZOPFAN).
“Malaysia is steadfast in its position on maintaining international peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, including issues related to nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear technology,” he said.
On Saturday, Ismail Sabri had expressed Malaysia’s concern that the AUKUS could potentially spark a nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region.
At the same time, it was feared that the move would provoke other powers to also act aggressively in the region, especially in the South China Sea, he said.