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NEWS ADMIN

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

DATE

14/02/2005

NEWS PROVIDER

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

NEWS SOURCE

Bernama

CATEGORY

HEADLINE

PM's Visit To Pakistan To Enhance Economic Coopera
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 (Bernama) -- Malaysia and Pakistan are expected tohold discussions on enhancing economic cooperation, including on theproposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA), during the visit by Prime MinisterDatuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Pakistan next week.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to Malaysia Talat Munir said the twocountries were also likely to discuss the formation of joint-venturecompanies, the establishment of a joint Pakistan-Malaysia business andinvestment forum and Malaysia's interest in the food-processing business,particularly of "halal" meat.

These were among the proposals made during the third Pakistan-Malaysiaministerial commission meeting held in Kuala Lumpur in October 2004.

During the visit, Abdullah is scheduled to hold discussions with hisPakistani counterpart Shaukat Aziz and Pakistan President Pervez Musharaf.

Munir told Bernama that currently there were a number of Malaysiancompanies in Pakistan which were mainly involved in land developmentactivities, the telecommunication sector and power generation.

Besides these companies, many other Malaysian companies were showinginterest to go to Pakistan for business in various other fields. Theyinclude taking part in building the infrastructure of Pakistan, likeroads, airports, housing schemes. Malaysia has a lot of experience in suchprojects.

"Basically, we are looking at investment, trade and commerce ... how toincrease the volume of trade between the two countries in other areasbecause right now Pakistan imports large amount of palm oil from Malaysia.We want to spread the trade in other fields also and vice versa," he said.

Munir said Abdullah was scheduled to address Malaysian and Pakistanibusinessmen at a luncheon meeting in Islamabad.

Total trade between Malaysia and Pakistan stand at about US$650 (US$1 =RM3.80) million annually, which is in favour of Malaysia. Pakistan's totalexport to Malaysia amounted to about US$75 million while Malaysia's exportto Pakistan totalled US$575 million. The trade imbalance was largely dueto the palm oil imported by Pakistan from Malaysia.

In this regard, he said, Felda had formalised a joint collaboration with aprivate party in Pakistan to set up a palm oil refinery and efforts werebeing made to establish some industry to downstream the by-products of therefinery.

Munir said both countries were also expected to discuss defencecooperation. Having a strong relationship in defence, especially in thefield of training, follow-up actions were expected from theMalaysia-Pakistan joint sub-committee on defence cooperation meeting inIslamabad last month, he said.

Another aspect to the diplomatic relationship that would be discussed fromthe Pakistan side would be the subject of Pakistan joining the AseanRegional Forum (ARF) in July last year.

"Malaysia has always been an ardent supporter for getting Pakistan intothe ARF and we are looking forward to upgrading our relationship withAsean to full dialogue member," he said.

The ARF is the principal forum for security dialogue in Asia. It has 24members, namely Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, European Union(Presidency), India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia,Myanmar, New Zealand, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia,Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

Munir said Malaysia had now become a very important player as it waschairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) as well as the Organisation ofIslamic Conference (OIC) and would soon take over the chair of Asean.

One other area which could also be discussed by the two countries is thereformation of the OIC, where Pakistan had put forward the suggestion ofthe concept of "enlighten moderation".

"The leaders will also exchange notes on the Saudi Arabian proposal forthe convening of an extraordinary summit of the OIC," he said.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah had recently proposed that Malaysiacall the summit to discuss issues pertaining to solidarity of the Ummah.

Malaysia had stated that it was ready to convene the summit and apreliminary meeting of Islamic thinkers and ulamas from OIC member nationshad been held in Putrajaya at the end of last month to identify the scopefor discussion at the summit.

Munir said both countries were also expected to discuss otherinternational and regional issues, including the situation in Iraq andPalestine, the reform of the United Nations Security Council, thesituation in Afghanistan and the current situation in Iran.

Munir said Iran is a neighbour of Pakistan and the country was in favourof the problem in Iran being resolved through dialogue diplomatically andnot through military force.

The United States had recently said that it was not ruling out possiblemilitary strikes against suspected nuclear weapons facilities in Iran.

Munir said Abdullah would also be conferred an honorary doctorate by theInternational Islamic University of Islamabad during the visit.

He also said that Malaysia and Pakistan were expected to sign twomemorandums of understanding -- one on science and technology and theother on the exchange of information in combating terrorism.

Meanwhile, government-linked companies (GLCs) from both countries are alsoexpected to sign MoUs and agreements.

Munir said Pakistan and Malaysia were cooperating in the war againstinternational terrorism and had been exchanging information on the matterthrough the appropriate channels.

In the effort to curb foreign students from extremist elements in theirpursuit of Islamic studies in private madrasas in Pakistan, he said thegovernment had introduced a policy requiring these students to getapproval from their host country prior to their enrolment in suchinstitutions.

The condition also applied to those who intended to travel to Pakistan fordakwah and tabliq, he added.

-- BERNAMA