Yesterday, I had an hour-long video call with my counterpart, His Excellency Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of France to take stock of and chart future course for the long-standing Malaysia-France cooperation. We also exchanged views on regional and international developments that are of strong interest to both countries.
Minister Le Drian and I agreed for our two countries to redouble existing efforts to further consolidate our multifaceted collaboration and understanding to elevate the partnership to a higher level. This involves promoting Malaysia’s palm oil industry and its access to markets in France and elsewhere which will benefit a great number of Malaysian oil palm small holders and industry players, much broader trade and investment cooperation, education cooperation, tourism and people-to-people links, as well as defence collaboration.
Given the experiences of France and Malaysia in addressing the current COVID-19 pandemic, we agreed that our two countries should develop new forms of cooperation, including ensuring global supply chain, guaranteed access to vaccines, and post pandemic socio-economic recovery.
In addition to strengthening multilateralism and our cooperation at various multilateral forums, we would also work together to promote understanding on universal values, as well as greater understanding and tolerance among different cultures, religions and beliefs for peace and harmony to prevail.
We also took the opportunity to discuss current regional developments, including the latest situation in Myanmar where Minister Le Drian expressed his support for the leadership and efforts by ASEAN, specifically on the convening of an Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting soon. The convening of the meeting is initiated by the Foreign Ministers of Malaysia and Indonesia, working closely with Brunei Darussalam as 2021 ASEAN Chair, and as mandated by both Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and President Joko Widodo.
I welcome France as an ASEAN Development Partner, and recognise France’s keen interest to expand its engagement with Malaysia and the rest of ASEAN in promoting peace, security, as well as development and prosperity of the Southeast Asian region with ASEAN in the driving seat. This includes the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, resolving outstanding issues such as repatriation of the Rohingya, and preventing human trafficking, cross border organised crimes, as well as threat of terrorism.
Minister Le Drian and I agreed to maintain continuous engagement. Having served in our previous capacity as Ministers of Defence, we have a close working relationship and mutual understanding in promoting the relationship between Malaysia and France moving forward.