Malaysia/Transnational issues

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As a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN--established 1967), Malaysia views regional cooperation as the cornerstone of its foreign policy. Malaysia was a leading advocate of expanding ASEAN's membership to include Laos, Vietnam, and Burma, arguing that "constructive engagement" with these countries, especially Burma, will help bring political and economic changes. In world affairs, Malaysia maintains cooperative relations with the United States, the European Union, and Japan. Malaysia is an active member of the Commonwealth, the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Malaysia also is a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and hosted the 1998 Leaders' Meeting. Malaysia maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea. In January 1999 Malaysia began a 2-year stint as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

International affiliations: UN and many of its specialized agencies, including UNESCO; World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Atomic Energy Agency; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; Association of Southeast Asian Nations; Asian Development Bank; Five-Power Defense Arrangement; South-South Commission (G-15); Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC); Commonwealth; Non-Aligned Movement; Organization of Islamic Conference; and INTELSAT.

Disputes - international: involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with Peoples Republic of China, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; Philippines have not fully revoked claim to Sabah State; two islands in dispute with Singapore; Sipadan and Ligitan Islands in dispute with Indonesia

Illicit drugs: transit point for some illicit drugs going to Western markets; drug trafficking prosecuted vigorously and carries severe penalties, the most severe being death sentence.