PETALING JAYA: Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have agreed to form a high-level strategic committee to bolster cooperation between the two countries in areas of mutual interest, says Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic).
“The Malaysia-Saudi Arabia high-level strategic committee will be chaired by the Foreign Ministers of both countries, namely Prince Faisal Farhan Abdullah Faisal Farhan Al Saud and myself,” he said in a statement on Sunday (Oct 18).
Besides increasing joint efforts in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, he said the committee would also focus on post-pandemic era cooperation between the two nations.
“This is crucial since Covid-19 has not only negatively impacted the health and safety of our people, but it has also disrupted our economy, food security and supply chains, in addition to social services,” he added.
He said, among the issues to be tackled by the committee were how to ensure the economic recovery of both countries, stabilising food security and reinvigorating the disrupted supply chains.
Hishammuddin said the committee would also allow for early discussions to be held with regard to issues surrounding Malaysians intending to perform the haj or umrah next year.
This includes, he said, discussions on the quota for the haj and umrah and the standard operating procedures (SOP) for those performing these pilgrimages if allowed before a Covid-19 vaccine is discovered.
“As Saudi Arabia is expected to relax its international border restrictions beginning Jan 1 next year, this decision implies that haj and umrah may be permitted for international pilgrims, with a pre-determined set of SOP,” he added.
While no final decision has been made by Saudi Arabia regarding the haj and umrah, he said that it is crucial that both countries are better prepared once a decision is made in the future.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin hailed the setting up of the high-level committee as another milestone between the two countries which have shared strong bilateral relations.
He said Saudi Arabia is the single largest contributor of Covid-19 relief to Malaysia and has contributed over seven million units of medical equipment via the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.