Malaysian Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein has urged leaders of the ASEAN member countries to continue to preserve regional unity to ensure peace and security in Southeast Asia.

Urging ASEAN to cast aside geopolitical and domestic considerations, Hishammuddin said on May 31 at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore that the grouping must stand united together on several key defence issues, and not be pulled in different directions.

"We should and we can work together towards establishing a common policy position on important issues, such as maritime security and our relations with major powers," the minister said.

Referring to the debate on the conflicting claims in the East Sea (known as South China Sea internationally), Hishammuddin said he tried to direct the dialogue to something more positive.

He also called for a solution for the issue on the basic of mutual respect and trust.-VNA