KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia is refusing to acknowledge any claim the Philippines has for Sabah and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (pic) said linking any such issue to it was "irrelevant."

"Is there a claim?" was Anifah's immediate response when asked about Philippines' media reports saying Manila had offered to "downgrade" its claim on Sabah.

Anifah said Malaysia did not recognise any claim by the Philippines on Sabah.

"Any note or anything in relation to that so-called claim is absolutely irrelevant," he said after opening the Asean Regional Forum workshop on combating wildlife trafficking in Tuaran near here.

A news report from the Philippines stated that its Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had sent a note to the Malaysian embassy in Manila last week, offering to downgrade its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia's support for its case against China before the United Nations.

According to the Manila Times, the note referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was projected from Sabah.

The Philippines, in an August 4, 2009 note to the UN Secretary-General, protested the joint submission because it declared Sabah to be Malaysian territory.

The news report stated that the DFA informed the Malaysian Government that it was reviewing its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia's response to Manila's two requests related to the South China Sea conflicting territorial claims.

The first request was for Malaysia to confirm that its claim to an extended continental shelf is "entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands."

The DFA requested Malaysia to confirm that it "does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims."

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