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March 15, 2009

‘Package solution’ to end Malaysia-Brunei border dispute
The six-year maritime dispute between Brunei and Malaysia is expected to come to an end when Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi begins his two-day working visit to the sultanate on Sunday, reported Brunei Times.

A "package solution" has been drawn up, stipulating that the dispute over overlapping maritime claims between the two countries, will be "resolved" as well as other boundary issues, according to Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim.

In a statement issued Friday, the foreign minister said that Malaysia premier will meet with the Sultan Brunei, during which the agreement is expected to be signed by both leaders.

The package solution, which resulted from a series of negotiations that culminated last August, includes maritime boundaries between the two nations, collaboration in the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources and the demarcation of land boundaries.

"The solution of the above-mentioned issues ensures certainty with regard to sovereign rights and jurisdiction on the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone of both countries," the foreign minister said in the statement.

"Furthermore, the solution enables both countries to embark on new developments and impose enforcement of rules and regulations in their respective maritime zones without any conflict."

Disputes over the maritime borders started in 2003 when Malaysia awarded exploration contracts to independent US oil companies at a number of deep underwater blocks in the South China Sea, where Brunei had awarded contracts to a consortium of foreign companies for the same blocks the previous year.

Brunei suspended drilling work in the area, which is relatively near to where a 440-million-barrel discovery had been made, after it was realised that the underwater exploration blocks overlapped with those awarded by Malaysia.

Disagreements over land boundaries between the two countries include disputed territories at the Temburong and Sarawak border.

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