Malaysia agrees to lift ban on Australian ads, programs

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Malaysian cabinet has decided not to prolong the Malaysia-Australia crisis, and Information Minister Dato Mohamed announced the immediate lifting of the ban on Australian ads and programs.

Arriving at this decision at its weekly meeting last weekend, the Cabinet felt that the regret expressed by Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating sufficiently demonstrated Australian appreciation of Malaysian sensitivities.

Keating had called Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad “recalcitrant” for staying away from the summit of Pacific leaders in Seattle in November.

It opened a Pandora’s box of adverse political and trade reactions and threatened to blow up into a full-scale crisis.

Last week, Keating wrote to Mahathir and said his remarks were not intended to give offense. However, he offered no apology.

Observers, while happy that the tense situation has been defused, feel that it is at best a temporary truce, with neither side able to claim a clear victory.

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