KUALA LUMPUR: France recognises the full sovereignty of Malaysia within its internationally-recognised borders.

This was affirmed by French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna during a bilateral meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir on Thursday (June 1), during the latter’s working visit to Paris.

A statement released on the French Ministry’s website also said the two ministers underlined the solid foundations of the relationship between France and Malaysia, in particular the seniority and quality of their defence industrial partnership.

The two ministers expressed their support for a free, open, inclusive Indo-Pacific space, which also includes South China Sea, where international law is respected by all, and also decided to relaunch it within the framework of regular bilateral consultations.

France had rolled out its Indo-Pacific strategy in 2018 to further engage with nations in Southeast Asia and the Pacific and help maintain an area that is open and inclusive, free of all forms of coercion and founded on multilateralism.

Malaysia is among the nations involved in the dispute over territorial sovereignty in South China Sea.

Also, in March this year, it was reported that the Paris Court of Appeal had upheld Malaysia’s stay on the enforcement of a purported final award to the Sulu claimants who sought compensation over Sabah.

According to the statement, Colonna also underlined the importance that France attaches to the deepening of its development partnership with Asean and to its observer status within the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) framework of its Indo-Pacific strategy.

She had thanked Malaysia of its support.

The discussion also touched on the crisis in Myanmar, with both ministers expressing their deep concern about the political and humanitarian situation in the country following the coup, and their commitment to a return to democracy and the rule of law in that country.

“The minister reiterated France’s support for the Asean 5-point consensus to this effect,“ the statement read.

With regard to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the two ministers recalled the necessary respect for the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.

During the two-day visit which ended on June 2, Zambry also met with Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), as well as Chems-Eddine Hafiz, Rector of the Great Mosque of Paris; and visited the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), and the French Senate.

In 2022, France was Malaysia’s 21st largest trading partner at the global level and the third largest among European Union member countries with a trade volume worth RM18.05 billion (US$4.19 billion) – an increase of 39.1 per cent compared to the value recorded in 2021.–Bernama