US Ambassador Urged Brunei to Continue Conflict Mediation Role

US Ambassador Daniel L Shields giving his farewell speech during the luncheon was hosted by diplomatic corps. BT File held at The Star Lodge Hotel in Jerudong yesterday. Picture:BT/SyazwanYussofSyazwan Yussof

QURATUL-AIN BANDIAL

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Thursday, December 18, 2014

BRUNEI should continue to be a leader in mediating regional conflicts and rejecting extremism, said the outgoing US ambassador.

In an exit interview with The Brunei Times, Daniel Shields said Brunei showed “great restraint and diplomacy” when mediating tensions over the disputed South China Sea, providing much-needed calm following a period of disagreement among ASEAN countries on how to handle overlapping territorial claims with China.

“I thought Brunei did a brilliant job of providing leadership and security,” he said yesterday.

“Brunei has always been a country that various parties can count on to speak up for restraint and diplomacy in terms of dealing any tension in the South China Sea. So I think Brunei’s contribution there has been very important.”

Brunei is one of four ASEAN countries – along with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia – that has overlapping claims with China in the resource-rich sea, which is home to vital international shipping lanes.

Over the past few years, tensions have flared due to Chinese incursions into Filipino and Vietnamese waters, with Manila and Hanoi crying foul over what they see as Chinese aggression.

Shields also applauded the Sultanate for taking a strong stand against extremism, particularly with the growing threat from the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which has been recruiting ASEAN citizens to fight civil wars in Iraq and Syria.

“In His Majesty’s remarks at the United Nations, and the statement the government issued condemning violent activities by IS, Brunei has been very clear in rejecting extremism and I really applaud Brunei for speaking out on that important issue,” said the ambassador.

In recent months the Brunei government has become increasingly concerned with the growing threat and reach of the IS, condemning its actions and calling to disrupt terrorist financing channels.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, has given strong support to two recent UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at suppressing the activities of terrorist groups.

Washington has also promised material support to countries involved in direct conflict with the extremist group, and has urged ASEAN leaders to do more to cut off terroist financing channels and stem the flow of foreign fighters to the Middle East.

The Brunei Times

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