Sunday, December 22, 2002

Pulau Batu Puteh: Only date to be fixed, says S'pore

SINGAPORE Dec 21 - Singapore said it has consistently maintained that Malaysia's claim to Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh) should be resolved by referring it to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague.

In response to media queries, a Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said that Singapore and Malaysia had agreed to refer to case to the ICJ in April 1998, and also on the text of a draft Special Agreement.

"The next step is to fix a date for both sides to sign and ratify this Special Agreement," he said in a statement here.

On Wednesday, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that Malaysia now planned to focus on its rightful claim to Pulau Batu Puteh, disputed by Singapore since 1996, following the positive outcome of arbitration by the ICJ on the dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia over Sipadan and Ligitan islands.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said at The Hague yesterday that the text of the agreement had been prepared and both parties were now ready to sign.

"We wanted to sign it when I went down to Singapore to discuss the water issue but they (Singapore) wanted to sign on another date," he said.

As a maritime nation, Malaysia has a number of unresolved issues with its neighbours, said Syed Hamid, noting that Kuala Lumpur did not want to give the impression that it was a litigious nation - Bernama

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