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SINGAPORE, May 30. /TASS/. Malaysia intends "to undertake several initiatives to promote closer economic engagement" of Russia and the ASEAN member countries, the Director General of the ASEAN-Malaysia National Secretariat Jojie Samuel told TASS.
"Total trade between ASEAN and Russia stood at USD 13.4 billion in 2015. ASEAN’s exports to Russia amounted to USD 4.0 billion while imports from Russia were recorded at USD 9.4 billion," the senior diplomat from the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, stressing that thus "Russia is ASEAN’s 8th largest trading partner".
"Malaysia hopes to undertake several initiatives to promote closer economic engagement such as through the exchange of business visits, convening of business seminars, trade fairs and language courses," Jojie Samuel told TASS.
"We believe that with the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015, there will be greater economic integration in the region. In this regard, we hope that Russia will capitalise on the greater opportunities that would be made available in ASEAN," the diplomat went on.
"One promising area which I wish to mention is energy cooperation," he emphasized. "On this, the ASEAN-Russia Energy Cooperation Work Plan 2016-2020 is a significant development, marking the willingness and readiness of ASEAN and Russia to deepen cooperation," the diplomat added.
"We value Russia’s position on this matter whereby disputes regarding territorial claims in the South China Sea should be settled through negotiations between countries involved and that attempts to interfere in the resolution of the issue by external parties will be counter-productive," said the senior diplomat from the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"I know we can continue to count on Russia to play a constructive role in ensuring a peaceful, predictable and stable environment for the Asia Pacific region," he went on.
He pointed to a need to "intensify our political and security consultations," saying also "We should develop a more proactive agenda with clear priorities and strategies in the various ASEAN-led regional processes, based on the principle of ASEAN Centrality".
"Recent and ongoing developments in the South China Sea is a concern to us," the senior diplomat said. "These activities have eroded trust and confidence among the concerned parties. The trust deficit must be addressed constructively so as to ensure continued peace, security and stability," he went on.
"Respect for international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), must be the basis of the rules of engagement and activities in the South China Sea," Jojie Samuel said.