AFP, Malaysia will proceed with its plan to acquire surface-to-air shoulder-launched missiles as part of its military modernisation programme, a senior minister said Monday, despite US concerns that such weapons could be used to shoot down civilian aircraft.

Defence Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia, being a sovereign nation, considers whether to acquire defence materials based on its needs.

Downplaying US fears, he said Malaysia would ensure the weapons do not fall in the hands of terrorists.

“There's no reason for Malaysia to stop or cancel the purchase of a defence apparatus like this,” Najib said.

“We will impose tight security to ensure the (missiles) do not fall into the hands of the enemies,” he said.

US President George W. Bush fears the so-called man-portable air-defense systems, known as MANPADS, could be used by terror groups to shoot down commercial planes, particulary American aircraft.

Asian diplomats meeting in Thailand for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum said Monday that a US plan to include in the APEC joint statement restrictions on the production and sale of the missiles as part of the anti-terror fight had faced protests from Malaysia.