Malaysia and Indonesia agree to reduce tension

Apr 26, 2005 02:00 AM

A Malaysian leader clarified that Malaysian and Indonesian navy commanders had agreed to reduce tension in the disputed oil field in the Sulawesi Sea.
They had also agreed to ensure that the incident where their vessels "brushed" against each other would not recur again, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak told in Seremban, central Malaysia.

On April 8, a Malaysian navy vessel brushed against an Indonesian warship in the disputed area prompting the governments of both countries to exchange protest notes. Following that, Malaysian Navy Chief Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Nor and his Indonesian counterpart, Vice-Admiral Slamet Subidyanto, met in Batam recently in order to prevent similar incident.
"But there is no specific understanding that only one ship is to be deployed there at any one time," he said.

He said although there was no specific accord, the Indonesian navy was seen to have deployed only one patrol vessel in the area off late in tandem with the spirit to reduce tension. The Malaysian navy would reciprocate in a similar manner, he said. However, Malaysia would respond to any development according to the prevailing situation, he said.
On Malaysia's rules of engagement in the disputed area, Najib said: "Our rules of engagement are very clear. We will not do anything provocative."

Indonesia's Armed Forces commander General Endriartono Sutarto was reported to have said that no agreement existed between the two countries to limit the presence of navy vessels in the area. Meanwhile, Malaysian Navy Chief Mohamed Anwar confirmed that the move to reduce the number of naval vessels in the disputed area in the Sulawesi Sea was the initiative of the Malaysian and Indonesian navies though there was not an official agreement on the issue.
The maritime border dispute arose following the award by Petronas, the Malaysian national oil company, to Shell of oil and gas contracts in two blocks in the Sulawesi Sea as both countries have claims over the oil-rich sea.

Source: Xinhua
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