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Malaysia, Brunei to resolve sea issues

Touristclick Brunei Travel News

Malaysia, Brunei to resolve sea issues

by Malaysia Star

Malaysia and Brunei have begun the first tangible steps towards resolving their overlapping maritime claims in the South China Sea.

The two countries have agreed to conduct an exchange of letters ceremony soon to resolve the dispute.

An exchange of letters is a form of understanding between disputing parties to move forward and decide some kind of mechanism towards resolving any conflict.

The ceremony will be held in Bandar Seri Begawan as soon as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gets the Cabinet's green light on the proposals to resolve the problem.

Yesterday after his bilateral meeting with the Sultan of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Abdullah said both leaders had agreed that any issue relating to territorial claims must be resolved.

“We felt that whatever we have agreed on be included in the exchange of letters which will be signed as soon as possible in Bandar Seri Begawan. But we are also prepared to host the event.

“However, I have already informed the Sultan that any specific suggestions on the matter will have to be tabled to the Cabinet for consideration and approval,” Abdullah added.

The dispute surfaced in 2003 when Malaysia and Brunei awarded production-sharing contracts to four overlapping deepwater exploration blocks in the South China Sea, close to where a 440 million-barrel discovery had been made the year before.

Petronas awarded its two blocks to US oil firm Murphy Oil while Brunei awarded one of its blocks to France's Total, BHP Billiton and Hess Corp and the other to Shell, Mitsubishi and ConocoPhillips. Following the dispute, both countries agreed to stop drilling activities in the area.

The leaders yesterday also discussed the free travel card (FTC) launched last year to provide movement convenience for citizens on both sides of the border.

“We hope to improve it even more as it has benefited the people a lot,” Abdullah said.

He said the Sultan expressed an interest to invest in Malaysia, especially in the development corridors.

“I hope the Sultan will consider investing in Iskandar Malaysia,” he said, adding that the Sultan would be given a special briefing on the project and also taken on a site tour today.

He added that both countries agreed to increase economic cooperation and that the Sultan expressed interest in cooperating in trade and investment, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

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