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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09KUALALUMPUR836
2009-10-22 05:20:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuala Lumpur
Cable title:  

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG'S SEPTEMBER 28, 2009

Tags:   OVIP  STEINBERG  JAMES  PGOV  PREL  MY 
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VZCZCXRO6628
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHKL #0836/01 2950520
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 220520Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3281
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2641
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0109
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2680
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 000836 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2019
TAGS: OVIP STEINBERG JAMES PGOV PREL MY
SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG'S SEPTEMBER 28, 2009
MEETING WITH MALAYSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER HAMIDI

Classified By: Ambassador James R. Keith for reasons 1.4 (b, d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 000836

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2019
TAGS: OVIP STEINBERG JAMES PGOV PREL MY
SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG'S SEPTEMBER 28, 2009
MEETING WITH MALAYSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER HAMIDI

Classified By: Ambassador James R. Keith for reasons 1.4 (b, d).


1. (SBU) September 28, 2009; 10:00 a.m.; The Ministry of
Defense; Kuala Lumpur.


2. (SBU) Participants:

U.S.
--------------
The Deputy Secretary
Ambassador Keith
Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, Directorate of National
Intelligence
Joseph Donovan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Scot Marciel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, EAP
Derek Mitchell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defense
Rear Admiral Charles Leidig, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Pamela Park, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary
Col. Y.T. Pak, Defense Attache
Greg Chapman, Political Officer, U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur
(notetaker)

MALAYSIA
--------------
Minister of Defense Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
Chief of Defense Offices General Azizan bin Ariffin
MoD Secretary-General Abu Bakar bin Haj Abdulla
Under Secretary for Policy Dr. Hj Ismail bin Hj Ahmad
Director of the Defense Intelligence Staff Division LTG Abdul
Hadi bin Hussin
Deborah Tan, North America desk officer, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (notetaker)


3. (C) SUMMARY: In a September 28 meeting with visiting
Deputy Secretary Steinberg, Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad
Zahid Hamidi stressed the "new tone" of relations between the
U.S. and Malaysia, with Prime Minister Najib encouraging
closer cooperation with the U.S. on all fronts, including
mil-to-mil. Hamidi shared Deputy Steinberg,s assessment
that relations between the two defense establishments are
excellent, and improving, as seen in increased port visits
and Malaysian participation in U.S. training exercises.
Recalling his conversation with PM Najib earlier in the day,
Deputy Secretary Steinberg urged Hamidi to firm up notional
ideas about Malaysian mil-mil assistance to Afghanistan.
Deputy Steinberg suggested other areas where the two
countries can work together, including anti-piracy and
peace-keeping operations. Hamidi told the Deputy the cabinet
had agreed to waive port fees for visiting U.S. Navy ships

(although the government decision still had to be worked out
with port owners and operators), and he would be visiting the
U.S. early next year to meet with Defense Secretary Gates.
He encouraged a U.S. ship visit to Langkawi Island in
December for the International Maritime and Aerospace
Exhibition, as a way of underscoring strengthened ties. END
SUMMARY.


4. (C) Defense Minister Hamidi, who took office in April of
this year, fully agreed with Deputy Secretary Steinberg's
assessment that our bilateral relations on the defense side
are excellent, and growing. Hamidi pointed out that Malaysia
had recently upgraded the rank of its Ambassador in
Washington to full ministerial-level. He said PM Najib had
instructed his government to look for ways to improve
relations with the US, especially in mil-to-mil. Hamidi
thought Deputy Steinberg's visit was timely, taking place as
the government sought to implement this shift.


5. (C) Hamidi and Deputy Secretary Steinberg reviewed recent
progress in defense cooperation: the U.S. Navy had increased
the number of its ship visits to Malaysia, Malaysians were
sending more military personnel on US-sponsored training
events, and the two militaries participated in a growing list
of joint exercises. PDAS/D Mitchell singled out the August
Malaysian-U.S. Strategic Talks (MUSST) event as another
indicator of the excellent tone of relations, and added that
Defense Secretary Gates had commented on the importance of
getting the U.S. military more engaged in Southeast Asia. LTG
Hadi offered another indicator of mil-to-mil ties -- the
ongoing construction of a series of radar installations in
eastern Sabah, paid for with USG 1206 funding. Deputy
Steinberg and Minister Hamidi agreed that defense cooperation
between the U.S. and Malaysia, as well as among the countries
in the region, was vital to long-term stability. The Minister
also noted that regional collaboration was good: Malaysia was
working closely with the Thai, Indonesians and Singaporeans
on counter-piracy, and ASEAN defense ministers worked well

KUALA LUMP 00000836 002 OF 002


together through the various US-ASEAN defense fora. Hamidi
agreed with Deputy Steinberg that ASEAN 1 could be used to
build defense ties in an informal setting.


6. (C) On USN ship visits to Malaysia, Minister Hamidi said
his government understood that high port fees had become
something of an obstacle to U.S. Navy calls to commercial
Malaysian ports, and to resolve the issue the cabinet had
recently decided to waive port fees for U.S. Navy ships. The
issue wasn't completely resolved, since Malaysian ports were
privatized and the fee waiver had not yet been negotiated
with port owners and operators. MoD Secretary-General Abu
Bakar raised the issue of clearing ports of civilian merchant
traffic when U.S. Navy ships were in town to provide better
security.


7. (C) Deputy Steinberg said there were other areas where we
can work more closely: peacekeeping operations, anti-piracy
and assistance to Afghanistan. The Deputy indicated he was
aware that Malaysia had offered some capacity building
training in Malaysia to Afghans, and described his discussion
of Afghanistan with PM Najib earlier that morning (see
septel). Hamidi told Deputy Steinberg his government wanted
to enhance its efforts with Afghanistan, and was considering
various options. One possibility, he said, playing on
Malaysia's experience with de-radicalization, was a program
aimed at "cooling down" anti-western sentiments among some
Afghans. This program was very notional at this point, but
reflected the GoM's willingness to do more, he said.


8. (C) Minister Hamidi encouraged U.S. Navy participation in
Malaysia's upcoming International Maritime and Aerospace
Exhibition, to be held on Langkawi Island in December. Hamidi
hoped the U.S. could send a naval ship to make a port call
during the event as a way of emphasizing the partnership of
the two countries in the area of defense, and suggested that
in the future the US consider building in joint exercises as
part of events of this sort. Admiral Leidig said a ship
visit was already under consideration. As a former Minister
of Tourism, Hamidi also hoped that more U.S. military
personnel would come to Malaysia for tourism in order to help
build understanding between the two countries. He pointed out
how Middle Eastern attitudes toward Malaysia had improved
greatly since Malaysia began promoting itself as a
destination for persons from that part of the world.


9. (C) Minister Hamidi indicated he would likely be traveling
to the U.S. in February or March next year. Hamidi said he
wanted to enhance our bilateral dialogue through what he
called a "personal touch." Deputy Steinberg agreed the
personal touch was important in bilateral relations, and
offered the ASEAN plus one forum as a venue where those
personal ties could be built. He encouraged Hamidi to make a
call at the State Department when he visits Washington.

10. (U) Deputy Secretary Steinberg cleared this message.
KEITH