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December 12, 2008

Indonesia, Malaysia in security cooperation amid financial crisis
Indonesia and Malaysia pledged on Thursday to increase security cooperation and expand joint patrols on their borders in case the global financial crisis causes a spike in human trafficking, smuggling and piracy, reported Reuters.

There has been a reduction in the number of pirate attacks in the Malacca strait bordering the two countries and Singapore in recent years, although the two countries vast sea and land borders ranging from Sumatra to Borneo are notoriously difficult to police.

"We want closer cooperation in intelligence to anticipate a possible increase in illegal activities due to the global financial crisis," Indonesian Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono told reporters after meeting visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The Malaysian prime minister said vigilance was needed because cases of piracy, smuggling and human trafficking might increase when the economy was struggling.

Sudarsono said the two countries would add more security posts, as well as police and military personnel along their borders.

The two countries also signed an agreement to allow limited use of each other's air space without prior diplomatic permission, to avoid misunderstanding during joint air patrols.

The Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Sumatra is among the world's busiest shipping lanes, used by more than 70,000 ships in 2007, including vessels supplying about 80 percent of the energy needs of Japan and China.

Thousands of Indonesians also cross illegally into Malaysia to seek work, sometimes causing friction between the neighbours, particularly when Kuala Lumpur launches crack downs.

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