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Out and About

40 years of Malaysian-Russian Relations hailed
By John Bonar
Photos courtesy of Embassy of Malaysia

Dato Mohamad Khalis and Dr. Alexander Panov during the opening remarks

Ambassador of Malaysia, H.E. Dato Mohamad Khalis, has called on both countries to ratchet their relationship up several gears on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the Malaysia and the Russian Federation. During a round table at the Russian Diplomatic Academy, Dato Khalis told the Rector of the Academy, Dr. Alexander Panov, the Deputy Director of the MFA Department of ASEAN and Asian Pacific Regional Affairs, Oleg Kabanov and several ambassadors and diplomats that it is high time both countries switch into high gear and forge ahead in great strides and recognise as well as acknowledge the potential both countries have to offer as equal partners. It is not a matter of if both sides are ready, but rather when and how we should move on. Malaysia and Russia have to come up with bold and innovative ideas in realising a more dynamic partnership.

Dato Khalis said the first official visit by Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi this month (June) would be an opportunity to enhance and push relations to a higher level. Several key bilateral agreements are being finalized for signing during the visit including a Partial Visa Abolition Agreement.

During his presidency, Vladimir Putin has visited Malaysia three times, trade has increased to $1 bn a year, military co-operation has increased with Malaysia buying strategic assets from Russia and the first Malaysian Cosmonaut is training at Star City.

Dato Khalis delivering his address. Mr. Oleg Kabanov, Deputy Director Asia Department MFA in the background

Tourism is growing at 50% a year with 12,000 visitors from Russia enjoying Malaysian hospitality last year and increasing numbers of Malaysian students are studying medicine here. The number is predicted to double to 4,000 students by 2010.

Malaysia shares Russias view on multilateralism and multi-polarity, the Middle East Peace process and the avoidance of force in resolving international conflicts. The ASEAN nation was instrumental in easing Russias acceptance as a full ASEAN Dialog Partner and in ensuring Russias membership as an observer of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Various participants made presentations at the round table and a spirited discussion, moderated by Professor Panov followed. The discussions took stock of the current state of bilateral relations as well as areas of possible enhanced cooperation.

We were extremely pleased by the outcome of the event, commented an Embassy spokesperson.

While it is common knowledge that bilaterally, official relations between Malaysia and Russia are very good, the people-to-people relations are also thriving. The event was attended by many Russians who have a close affiliation with Malaysia, of whom we were not really aware before this. In fact, we are truly impressed that the last two Russian speakers delivered their presentations in excellent Malay, he added.

H.E. Mr. Phomvihane , Ambassador of Laos and H.E. Mr. Janin Ambassador of Brunei greeting Dato Khalis

Prof. Lyudmila Pakhomova, Mr. Zakarov from the Russian and Mr. Azman Yusof, Malaysian Trade Commissioner

Mr. Evgeny Bazhanov, Deputy Rector of the Diplomatic Academy, Dato Khalis and one of the participants of the Roundtable

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