Kuala Lumpur–Malaysia’s relations withIndonesiaare still good despite tensions over the overlapping claims on oil-rich Ambalat in theSulawesiSea, said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
He said both countries had agreed that discussions and negotiations were the way to sort out the differences.
“We will not use any other way. Whatever steps that will be taken will be based on our diplomatic discussions,” Mr Abdullah said on March 25.
“I still believe that our relations withIndonesiaare at a good level and are not reaching a problematic and complicated stage,” he said.
While the Prime Minister said he had not spoken to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the matter recently, the two leadersdid have a conversation before the territorial issue erupted.
“At that time, I felt it was important that from the start, he and I have an understanding on the matter. And our understanding was that this be decided through discussions and diplomatic channels,” Mr Abdullah said.
Tensions between the two close neighbours surfaced in February after Malaysia’s state-oil company Petronas awarded oil giant Shell a concession in an area which Indonesia calls Ambalat and Malaysia calls Batu Unarang.
MalaysiaandIndonesiaheld their first round of technical talksto resolve the dispute last week but both sides have vowed not to back down.Theyhave agreed tomeet again.
In Jakarta, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda saidIndonesiahopes the territorial dispute will not drag on indefinitely.
“No problem was ever settled in just one meeting at the conference table. Therefore, the recent Indonesian-Malaysian meeting on the Ambalat issue should not be considered as having failed,” Mr Hassan said on March 24.
The ministernoted that it tookIndonesiaandVietnam23 years to come to an agreement on the boundaries of their continental shelves. “But we definitely don’t want the talks withMalaysiaon the Ambalat issue to take that long,” he said.
* RI hoping Ambalat dispute not to drag on indefinitely (Antara, March 25)
* PM: Ties with Indon still good (The Star, March 26)