Malaysian deputy PM, US Secretary Tillerson discuss security issues, bilateral cooperation

Kuala Lumpur (IINA) � Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday discussed security issues, including human trafficking, and bilateral relations between the two countries.

Ahmad Zahid said, during the 40-minute meeting with Tillerson, they discussed and exchanged views on security developments as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest, BERNAMA reported.

Hopefully, interaction between the leaders of both countries can strengthen bilateral relations and be a catalyst to enhancing relations and understanding between Malaysia and the United States, Ahmad Zahid said in a statement.

The deputy prime minister noted that Malaysia needs to forge cooperation with its strategic partners, mainly the United States, in order to combat threats of trans-border crime including human trafficking. He said Malaysia's initiatives in tackling these issues were recognized by the US Department of State in its 2017 Annual Report on Human Trafficking which upgraded Malaysia to Level Two-status after it showed a drastic improvement in terms of criminal prosecution under as well as enforcement of anti-human trafficking laws.

This is thus far the best achievement by Malaysia since it introduced the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Act in 2007, he said, adding that Malaysia was aimed to achieve Level One-status by 2020.

On bilateral relations, Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia and the US had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in addressing trans-border crime on 17 July 2012 and another MoU on immigration cooperation on 1 October 2014. He said both parties should apply the two MoUs to promote cooperation in identifying current and future trans-border crime threats, as well as migration and related issues.

On terrorism, Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia and the US had also signed a document on sharing information in October 2015, which listed individuals suspected of being involved in terrorism. He added that the two countries shared views that terrorism and extremism should be monitored, especially in social media, to curb the menace.

According to the deputy premier, the US was Malaysia's third biggest trade partner, while Malaysia was the 18th largest trading partner of the US last year. The volume of trade between the two countries was worth $32.8 billion in 2016.

Tillerson, who arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday for a two-day working trip, is the first high-ranking official from President Donald Trump's administration to visit the country.

Source: International Islamic News Agency