Resolve South China Sea Disputes Diplomatically - Ahmad Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 (Bernama) -- Malaysia wants the issue of overlapping claims in the South China Sea, involving several countries, to be resolved diplomatically.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said, it would ensure a peaceful situation in the territorial waters, as well as enable several countries to jointly benefit the natural resources.

He said recent Chinese naval maneuvers near the Spratly Islands was only a bid to display that country's military presence in the area.

"We monitor the actions of all countries involved. We are confident that China is not aggressive in this matter, but they only want their presence to be known," he said when met by reporters after receiving visits from future Malaysian ambassadors and high commissioners at his office here.

They are Datuk Zainuddin Yahya (Belgium), Datuk Mazlan Muhammad (New Zealand), Ahmad Shahizan Abdul Samad (Bahrain), Datuk Badruddin Ab Rahman (Sweden), Datin Paduka Halimah Abdullah (Italy), Datuk Ilankovan Kolandavelu (Spain), Ayauf Bachi (Peru), Dr Ahmad Faisal Muhamad (Myanmar) Datuk Azmil Mohd Zabidi (Vietnam) and S. Ganeson (Chile).

According to Ahmad Zahid, the issue would be extended to the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting in Bali in October for discussions through a military perspective.

"This is because it involves the operation of ships in the disputed area. We want to solve the matter diplomatically and avoid military conflicts.

"We propose to hold a multilateral meeting, instead of a bilateral meeting, and hopefully, achieve a more relevant and amicable solution," he added.

Earlier, the minister clarified to the future Malaysian ambassadors and high commissioners on the assets owned by the Malaysian Armed Forces, and spoke of regional military cooperation.

He said this information would allow them to correct the alternative media's negative perception of the country, regarding defence.