Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday expressed concern over the rise of national defence spending in budget, and called for a focus on diplomacy in resolving conflicts.
The Malaysian leader said that in the past 25 years "overall military expenditure has grown by 187 per cent" in the region.
He said that in 1988, Asian defence spending constituted 8 per cent of global military expenditure, but by 2012 the figure had risen to 20 per cent.
"Countries have every right to defend themselves," he said in a keynote address at the Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia held in Tokyo.
"But, regular arms replacement programmes aside, this trend indicates deeper concerns about security and conflict - concerns that could swiftly become self-fulfilling."
"To address this risk, we should reject the siren song of competitive armament, and seek wherever possible to strengthen the multilateral and diplomatic ties that check in stability."
"Confronted with complex disagreements between states, Asia must place its trust in diplomatic solutions," he said.