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UK underlines strong Indo-Pacific relationships as Defence Minister visits Malaysia and Thailand

The UK’s steadfast commitment to Indo-Pacific security and prosperity was underlined last week as Defence Minister The Earl of Minto visited Malaysia and Thailand.

Visiting Kuala Lumpur, the Minister met with Chief of Defence Force General Tan Sri Mohammad bin Ab Rahman and Deputy Defence Minister YB 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) Mr Mohd Yani in Daud, Chief of Navy Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Rahman bin Ayob and Director General National Security Council YM Raja Datuk Nushirwan bin Zainal Abidinto.

Defence Security Asia Expo took place in Kuala Lumpur, and the Minister visited the event to see some of the cutting-edge kit being developed by UK companies on show. Minister Minto also addressed the National Security International Seminar where he spoke about the need for international alliances and clear rules to protect our values.

In Thailand, The Earl of Minto met with Thai Minister of Defence Sutin Klungsang to discuss defence policy and strategy, and areas where the UK and Thailand can work together. The Earl of Minto also met with Chief of Defence Forces General Songwit Noonpackdee and other military chiefs.

UK Defence Minister The Earl of Minto yesterday said:

It was a huge pleasure to visit Malaysia and Thailand last week and discuss how we can continue to grow our defence cooperation.

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.

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.  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.

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 – 2.5% GDP.

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.


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