KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — Malaysia’s firm stance on matters relating to Israel will not affect its diplomatic relations with other countries, says Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

He said countries that have diplomatic and trade relations with Malaysia were very well aware of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s stance on such issues.

“Our foreign policy is to be friends and to have bilateral trade with all countries, but if on certain occasions, we have some differences in opinions, it should not affect those diplomatic and trade relations,” he told reporters after the launch of the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs Special Issues at the Sunway University near here.

Saifuddin said this in response to the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) decision to strip Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships following Malaysia’s decision not to allow Israeli swimmers to participate in the championships.

“I know there are questions about why sports are being dragged into becoming a political issue, but the issue of Palestine is not an ordinary political issue, it is an extraordinary issue. It just so happens that it involves sports,” he said.

Yesterday, the IPC stripped Malaysia of the right to host the championship, which is scheduled for July 29-Aug 4 in Kuching, saying that the Malaysian Home Ministry failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli swimmers could participate in the championships safely and free from discriminations. — Bernama