INTERNATIONAL

Abdullah, Antony see momentum in defence ties as positive development

Emerging equation: Defence Minister A.K. Antony with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he called on the latter at Putrajaya in Malaysia on Tuesday. Mr. Antony is in Malaysia on a three-day visit aimed at enhancing the defence relations.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: AFP

P.S. Suryanarayana

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hailed his country’s emerging equation with India as “a strategic partnership,” when Defence Minister A.K. Antony called on him at Putrajaya, near here, on Tuesday.

Mr. Antony later described his meeting with Mr. Abdullah as a “cordial and fruitful” engagement.

There was no immediate word on the talks from the Malaysian side.

Asked whether the current issues concerning the ethnic Indian minority in Malaysia figured in these talks, Mr. Antony did not comment.

However, the talks are understood to have covered the present links between India and Malaysia in the historical and cultural perspective.

Ethnic Indian issue

The ethnic Indian issue was discussed when Mr. Antony met Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak who, later noted that India was “aware of the political developments in Malaysia.”

Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Antony noted that the new momentum in defence cooperation “is a very positive development,” official sources said.

Bilateral trade

The two leaders voiced “satisfaction” over the growth in bilateral trade and wanted to see the progress towards an early commencement of negotiations for an India-Malaysia comprehensive economic cooperation agreement.

Free trade agreement

With Malaysia co-chairing the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean)-India trade negotiating committee, the two leaders agreed that their talks on a free trade agreement should be completed soon.

The talks were held in “a warm and cordial atmosphere,” the sources said.