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Monday, October 24, 2005

U.S. participation in Malacca Strait air patrol welcome but to be limited

Jakarta Post says here:
Malaysia said Monday that nations bordering the piracy-prone Strait of Malacca were seeking United States participation in air patrols, but that it would only play a supporting role.

Defense Minister Najib Razak said the U.S. could provide aircraft for the "Eyes in the Sky" coordinated patrols launched by Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand last month.

But after briefing Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes on the initiative, he emphasized that primary responsibility for security along the strategic waterway belonged to the Asian nations.

U.S. participation "must not undermine national sovereignty of the littoral states," Najib told reporters.

"The basic concept is that they can provide platforms but the consoles will be manned by persons from the littoral states, including Malaysia. If there needs to be any interception, that will be done by littoral states," he said.

Najib said "platforms" included providing aircraft, which under the scheme will communicate with Eyes in the Sky operations centers. But "the important thing is the consoles, the monitors,must be manned by our people," he said.

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