I’m writing from Washington, DC, where earlier today President Barack Obama and I met face-to-face at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre against the backdrop of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit.
The last time my US counterpart and I were engaged in conversation was in late June 2009, when we discussed the global financial crisis, North Korea and Iran, and nuclear proliferation in a twenty-minute phone call. Then, President Obama, to my delight, lauded Malaysia as an example of a modern, progressive Muslim country that is able to manage a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.
In our one-to-one this morning, we talked for twice as long.Our cordial conversation covered matters as diverse as Afghanistan and Iran, human trafficking, the New Economic Model and non-proliferation.
On the latter, President Obama welcomed our Strategic Trade Bill 2010, passed recently by parliament. Five years in the making, the law is testament to Malaysia’s non-proliferation efforts and aims to curb the illicit trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Among other things, the Strategic Trade Act provides control over activities that will or may facilitate the design, development and production of WMD (including nuclear weapon components).
Malaysia is committed to collaborating with international partners to prevent illicit trafficking of WMD and their means of delivery, and on this note I agreed to work with the President to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Similarly, we agreed to strongly emphasise to Iran that it does not have the right to develop nuclear weapons capability and that any nuclear programme should be used for peaceful purposes only.
Focusing on matters of trade and investment, I discussed the New Economic Model that I unveiled at the end of last month, and both the President and I recognised the need to deepen economic ties between both countries. We also acknowledged our mutual interest and links in education, technology and entrepreneurship.
Today’s meeting points to closer cooperation between Malaysia and the US in the months ahead, and I’m heartened by this progress in bilateral relations. There is much that can be achieved from working together, from strengthening regional peace and stability to improving the economic prospects of both countries.
My Washington, DC, schedule will now continue to take in the Nuclear Security Summit, more meetings with decision-makers and the Faces of 1Malaysia Gala Night tomorrow.