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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 24 -- Malaysia and France, given their experiences in addressing the current COVID-19 pandemic, have agreed that the two countries should develop new forms of cooperation, including guaranteed access to vaccines, and post-pandemic socio-economic recovery, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
He said this was agreed upon during an hour-long video call yesterday with his counterpart from France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, to take stock of and chart the future course for long-standing Malaysia-France cooperation. Both sides also exchanged views on regional and international developments that are of strong interest to the two countries.
“Minister Le Drian and I agreed for two countries to redouble existing efforts to further consolidate our multifaceted collaboration and understanding to elevate the partnership to a higher level.
“This involves promoting Malaysia’s palm oil industry and its access to markets in France and elsewhere which will benefit a great number of Malaysian oil palm smallholders and industry players, besides much broader cooperation in trade and investment, education, tourism, people-to-people links, as well as defence collaboration,” he said in a statement today.
Hishammuddin said both of them also discussed the current regional developments, including the latest situation in Myanmar where Le Drian expressed his support for the leadership and efforts by ASEAN, specifically on the convening of an Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting soon.
On Feb. 1, Myanmar's powerful military took control of the country in a coup and declared a state of emergency for a year, followed by the detention of political leaders and other senior government officials on claims of alleged voting irregularities in the country's election in November 2020.
Hishammuddin said the convening of the meeting is initiated by the Foreign Ministers of Malaysia and Indonesia, working closely with Brunei Darussalam as 2021 ASEAN Chair, as mandated by both Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo.
“I welcome France as an ASEAN Development Partner, and recognise France’s keen interest to expand its engagement with Malaysia and the rest of ASEAN in promoting peace, security, as well as development and prosperity of the South-East Asian region, with ASEAN in the driving seat.
“This includes the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, resolving outstanding issues such as repatriation of the Rohingya, and preventing human trafficking, cross border organised crimes, as well as the threat of terrorism,” he added.
Hishammuddin said in addition to strengthening multilateralism and cooperation at various multilateral forums, both of them agreed to work together to promote understanding of universal values, as well as greater understanding and tolerance among different cultures, religions and beliefs for peace and harmony to prevail.
"Minister Le Drian and I agreed to maintain continuous engagement. Having served in our previous capacity as Ministers of Defence, we have a close working relationship and mutual understanding in promoting the relationship between Malaysia and France moving forward," Hishammuddin said.