UK Underlines Strong Southeast Asian Ties 

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The United Kingdom has emphasised the importance of defence alliances for regional stability and security during a tour of Southeast Asia by a top British official.

“It was a huge pleasure to visit Malaysia and Thailand last week and discuss how we can continue to grow our defence cooperation,” said Minister of State for Defence, Timothy George Lariston Eliot-Murray-Kynynmound.

He  said the Indo-Pacific is critical to global prosperity and security, and the UK will continue to work with partners including Malaysia and Thailand to ensure the region remains free and open.

Next year, the UK’s Carrier Strike Group will sail to the region. UK Armed Forces take part in regular exercises with Thailand and Malaysia, the UK Ministry of Defence said.

In the face of increasing threats to global stability and security, last month UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the UK’s defence spending would increase to £87 billion by the end of the decade.

The Minister’s visit affirms the UK’s steadfast commitment to work with the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to secure a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, the May 14 statement added.

Reinforcing the UK’s commitment to the region, the Royal Navy has two ships operating in the Indo-Pacific – HMS Spey and HMS Tamar. HMS Spey visited Thailand last year, shortly before Thai and UK Forces partnered together during Exercise Panther Gold in July 2023.  

Visiting Kuala Lumpur, the Minister Lariston met with Chief of Defence Force General Mohammad Ab Rahman and Deputy Defence Minister Adly Zahari to discuss defence cooperation both bilaterally and through the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).

FPDA is in its 53rd year. Founded in 1971, the FPDA is a series of agreements between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK, with the group seeking to work together to promote stability in the region.The Minister also met Deputy Secretary General (Policy) Mohd Yani Daud and Chief of Navy Admiral Abdul Rahman bin Ayob.

At the recently concluded Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition which took place in Kuala Lumpur, the Ministe, who is also the Earl of Minto, visited the event to see some of the cutting-edge kit being developed by UK companies on show. He also addressed the National Security International Seminar where he spoke about the need for international alliances and clear rules to protect our values.

In Bangkok, the Minister met with Thai Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang to discuss defence policy and strategy, and areas where the UK and Thailand can work together. He also met with Chief of Defence Forces General Songwit Noonpackdee and other military top brass. – adj/shp/mgm (Pix: UK MoD, RN)