India, Malaysia to deepen strategic partnership

By Minu Jain, IANS,

Kuala Lumpur : India and Malaysia Wednesday pledged to elevate their deepening relationship to a long-term and strategic partnership that would include promoting military ties and jointly fighting terror.

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Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh of India and Najib Tun Razak of Malaysia decided among other things to enhance military exchanges and cooperation through regular exchanges of defence ministers and military officials.

A joint statement on the Framework for India-Malaysia Strategic Partnership issued on Manmohan Singh’s penultimate day in Malaysia covered a wide range of areas ranging from economy to defence. He had arrived here for a three-day trip Tuesday.

In a clear sign that India and Malaysia were taking their ties to a new high, they said their chiefs of armed forces would exchange visits while there would be “regular Service-to-Service Staff Talks and regular ships visits”.

The two leaders agreed to explore joint collaboration on projects of mutual interest in the defence sector on the basis of experience gained by both sides during the completion of the SU 30 MKM training programme.

Malaysia said it looked forward to participation from the Indian defence industry at the soon to be established Malaysian Defence and Security Park. Both sides also agreed to support each other’s defence exhibitions.

Both leaders recalled that India and Malaysia had a mutual stake in the progress and prosperity of the other.

They expressed their desire to elevate bilateral relations to the level of a long term and strategic partnership based on mutual equality and mutual understanding.

The two prime ministers agreed to maintain regular dialogue and contact at the summit level and at international conferences.

They acknowledged the importance of biennial meetings of the Joint Commission headed by the foreign ministers of the two countries. The next meeting will be held in Kuala Lumpur in early 2011.

The two countries will promote more exchanges at the cabinet ministers level in trade and industry, railways, road transport and highways, tourism, energy and higher education.

Manmohan Singh and Najib condemned terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations, and agreed to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism, including through information sharing and the establishment of a Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, at an early date”.

The two leaders affirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral trade and investment cooperation and deepen their economic engagement as the core of the strategic partnership.

Both sides welcomed the conclusion of the negotiations towards a high quality and mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) to further enhance trade and investment flows. The CECA would be signed by Jan 31, 2011, and implemented by July 1.

There would be more cooperation in infrastructure development, a key area of Malaysian interest.

The two sides will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation Relating to the Provision of Technical Assistance Services on Highway Management and Development.

The two countries agreed to explore further cooperation in the financial sector, including through participation in each others’ capital markets.

They will set up a Joint ICT Talent Development Consultative Committee to recommend to both the governments ideas for IT skills training, talent development and greater engagement of Indian IT companies in Malaysia.

Malaysia welcomed India’s initiative to revive the Nalanda University in Bihar.

Both sides called for UN reforms and reiterated their commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.

(Minu Jain can be contacted at [email protected])