Malaysia and India pledge closer defence cooperation


Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia and India Monday pledged to increase their cooperation in defence training and exchange of information, defence ministers of both countries said at a joint press conference.

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Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who arrived in Malaysia late Sunday, kicked off a three-day official visit with a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak, in the administrative capital Putrajaya.

Antony announced to reporters that a 38-member team from India would arrive in Kuala Lumpur next month to train Malaysian officers in the use of Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets.

The team is to be stationed in Malaysia for two years, he said.

Malaysia purchased 18 Sukhoi jet fighters for 3.42 billion ringgit ($1 billion) in 2003. The first two jets were delivered in May while the remaining jets were due to arrive by June.

The Indian Air Force has been using Sukhoi fighter jets since 2002.

“As part of joint efforts of the two sides to intensify our bilateral defence cooperation, the Indian Air Force and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd have agreed to undertake the training of Royal Malaysian Air Force pilots and technicians,” Anthony said after his meeting with Najib.

“We also agreed both sides will enhance defence exchanges at various levels, promote cooperation in training and education in strategic and security studies and exchange of information,” he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.

Both ministers also agreed to increase naval exercises between the two countries, aside from discussing security issues concerning the region.

Antony is due to visit the northern state of Penang Tuesday before leaving for home.