January meeting between Singapore and Malaysia to be on airspace dispute: Mahathir

January meeting between Singapore and Malaysia to be on airspace dispute: Mahathir

Seletar Airport file photo
Seletar Airport. (File photo: TODAY)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will have discussions with Singapore on the airspace dispute both countries are currently embroiled in, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday (Jan 4).

READ: Singapore, Malaysia foreign ministers to meet Jan 8 amid airspace, maritime dispute

"The Cabinet has decided to have discussions with Singapore on the matter of the Seletar Airport," he told a press conference after chairing a meeting of the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council.

Malaysia had objected when Singapore published instrument flight procedures for the newly refurbished Seletar Airport, saying that it would restrict the construction of tall buildings at Pasir Gudang. The airport is located 2km from the Johor town.

READ: Singapore, Malaysia airspace dispute: What we know and timeline

On Dec 25, Malaysia established a permanent restricted area over Pasir Gudang, which Singapore's Ministry of Transport said will impact the existing and normal operations of aircraft.

Earlier, Malaysia had announced that it wanted to take back control of its "delegated airspace" in southern Johor, citing concerns over sovereignty and national interest. 

Under the current arrangement, management of the airspace over southern Johor is delegated to Singapore, meaning that Singapore provides air traffic control services in that airspace.

Earlier, Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry had said that the foreign ministers of both countries will meet in Singapore on Jan 8. 

“Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat visited Putrajaya, Malaysia on Dec 31, 2018 to convey a message to Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong," an MFA spokesperson said on Tuesday in response to media queries. 

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah reportedly also said on Tuesday that he and his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan would have a meeting on the matter on Jan 8.

In addition to this, MFA added that there are plans for both countries' transport ministers to meet soon as well.

READ: Singapore, Malaysia maritime dispute: A timeline

Both countries are also locked in a maritime dispute after Malaysia unilaterally extended its Johor Bahru port limits, encroaching into Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas.

Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan had earlier said that Singapore was gearing up for talks over the maritime issue in January and was planning to negotiate "in good faith".

Source: Bernama/Agencies/aa(hm)

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