KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Legal concerns have prompted Malaysia to stay out of a loose U.S.-backed security pact formed in response to the September 11 attacks, Defence Minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday.
Malaysia, a U.S. ally in the war on terror, has growing military ties with Washington but felt uncomfortable with some of the terms in the loosely-knit group, known as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), Najib said.
“Malaysia has some reservations with regard to certain aspects of the initiative which we feel do not conform to acceptable international norms,” he told a defence conference sponsored by Malaysia and the United States.
“We are still studying it,” Najib told reporters later. “There are some items in the PSI that the (Attorney-General’s) chambers are not so comfortable with.” He declined to elaborate.
But co-operation on some issues was still possible.
“Even if we are not signatory to it, there are instances in which we can co-operate,” Najib added.
He said Malaysia had sent observers to PSI exercises for the past two years.
U.S. President George W. Bush established the PSI in May 2003 as part of his administration’s response to the September 11, 2001 hijacked plane attacks on New York and Washington.
It was given fresh momentum by North Korea’s October 2006 nuclear test. So far 80 countries, include several Middle Eastern countries, have endorsed PSI principles.