BANGKOK, Thailand Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to strengthen their cooperation to ensure its common borders are not exploited by violent extremists and terrorists, says Malaysia’s Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Hishammuddin, who was here to attend the 54th Malaysia-Thailand General Border Committee (GBC) meeting said both neighbours would counter these menacing threats together.

We agreed that it is crucial for us to maintain and enhance the close relations between our two nations at all levels in order for us to avoid the exploitation of our common border by violent extremists and terrorists, he said in a statement released after his meeting with Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha here yesterday.

According to him, he and the Prime Minister had a very productive discussion where both of them deliberated over issues of common interest which further strengthened the existing cooperation between Malaysia and Thailand.

In the meeting held in Prayut’s office, Hishammuddin said the Prime Minister had highlighted Malaysia’s efforts in spearheading humanitarian efforts to assist the Rohinga refugees.

We both agreed that the humanitarian crisis must be solved collectively by countries in Southeast Asia to diminish the risk of these refugees being exploited by extremist groups such as the so-called Islamic State (Daesh group of militants), he added.

Malaysia and Thailand, said the Defence Minister, were committed to assist the humanitarian situation on the ground in Bangladesh to ensure it did not serve as a foundation for potential conflict.

Hishammuddin and Prayut also agreed defence cooperation between both countries should be enhanced, focusing on other dimensions such as economic, social, cultural, cyber security and defence and international matters.

To this end, he said Malaysia and Thailand would establish a direct hotline between the agencies concerned to ensure communication lines remained constant and timely.

Earlier in the day, Hishammuddin and Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan held a closed-door meeting prior to the GBC meeting, which was held alternately between the two countries.

According to him, he and Prawit, who is also Defence Minister spoke at length on the growing threat of Daesh in the region, post-Marawi and expressed their commitment to increase defence cooperation in ensuring this region remain safe for the people.

During the meeting, he and his counterpart instructed the ministries and armed forces to begin planning for the 4th Joint/Combined Exercise Malaysia-Thailand which will focus on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations.

Source: NAM News Network