Malaysia seeks US help in solving Rohingya refugee issue

The number of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia is already high, says Hishamuddin Hussein. (AP pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he had requested the US to assist Malaysia in discussions with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) over the Rohingya refugee issue.

He added that Malaysia’s relationship with UNHCR was important as Malaysia had previously agreed to take in refugees with the condition that they be repatriated to a third country. “But this has not been done.”

“It is unfair now that some parties are still asking us to accept more refugees from Rakhine,” he said, adding that the numbers were already high.

“UNHCR must also be responsible. If they don’t cooperate with us, I hope the US can help us voice our concern to the UNHCR,” he said, adding that he had raised the issue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

On the tensions in the South China Sea, Hishammuddin said Asean countries must engage in discussions with global superpowers in the region – US and China – as a bloc.

“We cannot be divided, our lone voice will not be sufficient in negotiations with these superpowers.

“I indicated this to Secretary Pompeo and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Li and they also agree that it is to the benefit of everyone that we see our region stable and safe.”

He added that Asean countries involved in the South China Sea claims should avoid getting dragged into the politics between the US and China.

Meanwhile, he said Malaysia would look into providing assistance to Lebanon following an explosion in Beirut two days ago.