Malaysia and Singapore yesterday agreed to take steps to de-escalate air and maritime disputes, according to a joint statement issued by their foreign ministries. The measures include the simultaneous suspension of a restricted area in Malaysia near the border with Singapore and instrument landing procedures at Singapore's Seletar Airport, which Malaysia has objected to on the grounds that it could hamper building development in its southern-most state.
On the maritime front, the sides agreed to the establishment of a working group to discuss issues around port limits. Singapore last month protested to Malaysia's plan to extend the limits of a port saying it encroached on its territorial waters.
"Both sides reiterated their commitment to preserving the vital relationship between both countries and to improving bilateral ties, on the basis of equality and mutual respect," said the statement issued after a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers yesterday. "They agreed on the importance of keeping the situation on the ground calm to allow discussions to take place in a conducive atmosphere."
The neighbors have had testy relations since Malaysia evicted the tiny island from the Malaysian Federation in 1965, ending a brief and stormy union of the former British colonies.