Kuala Lumpur (ANTARA News/Bernama) -- Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed on the rules of engagement at sea to prevent clashes between the navies of both countries, Defence Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

This also covers patrols in disputed area of Ambalat in the Celebes Sea which both countries have overlapping territorial claims.

"We have agreed on the rules of engagement when carrying out operations to prevent clashes and to ensure peace is maintained," he told a joint news conference with his Indonesian counterpart Prof Dr Purnomo Yusgiantoro after attending the 38th Malaysia-Indonesia General Border Committee meeting here Thursday.

The meeting was attended by Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Azizan Ariffin, Immigration Director-General Abdul Rahman Othman and Army Defence Intelligence Director-General Abd Hadi Husin.

Among those in the Indonesian delegation were Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Da`i Bachtiar and Indonesian National Armed Forces Commander Gen Djoko Santoso.

The Ambalat issue received a wide play-up in the Indonesian media in June last year following accusation that the Malaysian Navy had encroached into the Ambalat water.

Meanwhile, Purnomo said that although the Ambalat issue was not specifically discussed in Thursday`s meeting because the matter was being handled by the Foreign Ministry, the subject nevertheless cropped up when the discussion touched on the issue of rules of engagement.

Meanwhile, Zahid said the meeting also discussed several issues including the operations of panels under the committee such as the Coordinated Operations Control Committee, Joint Exercise Committee, Joint Police Operations Committee and the Socioeconomy Working Group.

He said that both sides also agreed to deploy more personnel at five border posts in Entikong and Simanggaris in Kalimantan on the Indonesian side and in Biawak and Lubuk Antu in Sarawak and Seliku in Sabah, on the Malaysian side.

Both sides also agreed to enhance joint exercise initiatives and had approved the Malaysia-Indonesia Samudera and Angkasa Joint Land Exercise, he said.

"The bilateral exercise will be held once in four years involving all three branches of the armed forces, with the inaugural exercise to be held in Malaysia`s southern state of Melaka from March 25 to April 10," he said.

To tackle trans-border crime, police of both countries agreed to carry out joint operations and to share information in the efforts to combat illegal activities.

The meeting also welcomed the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency as its newest member.  The 39th meeting will be hosted by Indonesia in 2012. (*)