PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have agreed to form a High-Level Strategic Committee to improve cooperation in various fields of mutual interest.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said in a statement yesterday that the committee would be jointly-chaired by him and Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Farhan Al-Saud.
He said Malaysia and Saudi Arabia agreed that in addition to increasing joint efforts in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, attention must also be given to post-pandemic era cooperation, which will be the focus of the High-Level Strategic Committee.
“This is crucial since Covid-19 has not only negatively impacted the health and safety of our people, but also disrupted our economy, food security and supply chains, in addition to social services,” he said.
Hishammuddin said that through the committee, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia would work closely together to ensure the economic recovery of both countries in light of the global economic downturn.
Hishammuddin said Malaysia and Saudi Arabia would also work closely to stabilise food security and reinvigorate disrupted supply chains between both countries and assist the nationals of the two countries who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
He added that both countries would also begin early discussions regarding the hajj quota for 2021, the number of Malaysians allowed to perform the Umrah, in addition to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that would be in place should these be allowed before the COVID-19 vaccine is discovered.
“As Saudi Arabia is expected to relax its international border restrictions from Jan 1, 2021, this decision implies that Hajj and Umrah may be permitted for international pilgrims, with a pre-determined set of SOPs,” said Hishammuddin.
He, however, said that while there had been no final decision by the Saudi Arabian government regarding the Hajj and Umrah, and the methods to perform them, both countries agreed that early discussions and planning through the High-Level Strategic Committee were crucial so that both countries would be better prepared once any decision is made in the future.
He said Malaysia greatly appreciated the commitment by the Saudi Arabian government to jointly establish the committee and believed that it would benefit both countries.
Hishammuddin said that earlier this year Saudi Arabia had donated over seven million units of medical equipment to Malaysia, making it the single largest contributor of COVID-19 relief to Malaysia. — Bernama