KUALA LUMPUR: Southeast Asian countries need to keep up strong multilateral relationships by sharing information crucial to curbing threats in the region’s waters.
United States Navy Logistics Group Western Pacific and Task Force 73 commander Rear Admiral Donald D. Gabrielson said yesterday bilateral relationships alone were inadequate.
“We can have a strong bilateral relationship with any country in this region.
But, if we are going to really operate on these threats, we need a multilateral approach, which allows us to share information with each other,” he said.
This year, the US and Singapore co-hosted the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training exercise, a maritime security exercise, which was also joined by Indonesia and Malaysia.
The US, said Gabrielson, had conducted multilateral training in the Sulu Seas with Malaysia and the Philippines via the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training programme in June.
He said building a multilateral relationship required trust.
“Trust must be present in the first place. It’s an effort that requires a lot of thought and hard work.”
He was speaking on the sidelines of the Maritime Warfare Asia 2016 conference here. -nst