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Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Leaders’ Plenary Session of the Asean-Australia Special Summit in Sydney yesterday. BERNAMA PIC

SYDNEY: Kuala Lumpur led other Asean governments, and Canberra, in talks over issues critical to the global community.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Malaysia, as lead speaker at the leaders’ retreat, led discussions on strategic issues, including the situation in Rakhine State in Myanmar, the Korean Peninsula, South China Sea, as well as other issues plaguing Asean.

Asean, he said, was consistent in its stance that Pyongyang must abandon its nuclear ambition and intercontinental ballistic missile programme.

The denuclearisation of North Korea, he said, must be obtained through peaceful negotiations.

The summit, he said, agreed that sanctions must be imposed on North Korea to show that the global community was serious on the matter.

“We hope it realises that the future could be better if it respects and understands United Nations resolutions, not only for its own interest, but that of the global community,” he said, adding that Malaysia did not have a mission in Pyongyang.

Najib concluded his two-day working visit to Sydney yesterday for the Asean-Australia Special Summit.

He said the summit was a huge success and Canberra acknowledged Asean as a critical organisation for regional peace and prosperity.

The summit concluded with the issuance of the Sydney Declaration, in which Canberra and Asean agreed that the centrality of Asean was a concept that Australia fully adopted.

Najib said it also underscored basic principles, including human rights, transparency and inclusiveness, and that these were core values that must be defended as they were the foundation for stability in the region.

The declaration, Najib said, also touched on the need to better address the threats of terrorism and violent extremism with enhanced law enforcement, as well as information and intelligence exchanges. The declaration also said the need to plug channels for terror financing was paramount.

“Terrorism is transnational, hence exchange of intelligence is crucial. Some information gleaned by one country may not be deemed ‘important’ by its authorities, but that piece of intel could be the missing puzzle for another... that’s why this is important,” Najib said at a press conference here.

Present were Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Wisma Putra secretary-general Datuk Seri Ramlan Ibrahim and High Commissioner to Australia Datuk Sudha Devi K. R. Vasudevan.

Najib said he told the session that the recruitment of foreign fighters by the Islamic State was robust and more must be done to stop it.

He said Malaysia’s deradicalisation programme success rate was 97 per cent.

Najib said Asean welcomed Australia’s role in assisting the region in becoming an economic community by 2025, as well as its financial contribution to strategic plans.

Kuala Lumpur, he said, enjoyed a hike in bilateral trade of 23.7 per cent between 2016 and last year.

Malaysia and Australia, he said, could cooperate in the Digital Free Trade Zone, as well as the digital economy.

“I said in the plenary that Malaysia is keen on Australia’s use of the Industrialised Building System in developing quality homes.

“They do not depend on foreign labour because of this... This is an area that we can consider implementing,” he said, adding that his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, picked up on this and agreed that Canberra could contribute to this to help Malaysia achieve its national housing agenda.

Najib played a key role in the unprecedented summit and was honoured by his host, who asked the prime minister to address the all-important counterterrorism conference that ran alongside the summit.

The prime minister said the cooperation with Canberra would not be at the current level if former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was still at the helm.

“We were also treated very well by the Australian government, so whatever it was that someone tried to do, was a complete failure.

“Everybody knows he hated the Australians when he was prime minister. He also hated the Australian press, but now he is giving them interviews.

“That is another example of his U-turns,” Najib said.

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