KUALA LUMPUR - The proposal for a new level of defence cooperation in times of humanitarian and disaster relief between ASEAN nations will top the list as Malaysia opens the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM).
High ranking Mindef officials said they hoped to sign the Joint Declaration on the ASEAN Ready Group with their regional counterparts, under Malaysia's chairmanship this year.
Talks are expected to begin tomorrow and will go on until Jan 24 with the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials Meeting (Adsom) working group.
These will then be held by another Adsom working group with eight ASEAN-Plus members in Johor Baru.
An official Adsom and Adsom-Plus meeting will take place here in February, culminating in the ninth ADMM in Langkawi - to coincide back-to-back with the 2015 LIMA exhibition.
Last year, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had proposed for a greater cooperation between militaries of ASEAN countries under the Ready Group, so that the aid could be dispensed effectively to one another during crises.
Hishammuddin said the group could train and develop common procedures for humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
"It is hoped that the group will have special predetermined diplomatic clearance, lines of communication and pre-identified human resource and equipment specialities," he said during the Exchange of Views session during last year's ADMM in Myanmar.
Speaking at the ADMM soft launch at Wisma Pertahanan yesterday, Hishammuddin's deputy Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said Mindef would continue to support the promotion of mutual trust and greater understanding of security challenges among the ASEAN member states and other Plus countries, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
The ASEAN Community is expected to realise its full form this year under Malaysia's chairmanship, with the establishment of the three pillars - the ASEAN Political and Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.