PM touches down in Malaysia to bolster ties (Lead)

October 26th, 2010 - 9:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Minu Jain
Kuala Lumpur, Oct 26 (IANS) Having said sayonara to Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here Tuesday for a three-day visit during which he will underscore the linkages between India and Malaysia, particularly through the 2.1 million strong diaspora, and strengthen economic and diplomatic ties.

Accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, Manmohan Singh, who comes here on the second leg of a three-nation Asia trip, was welcomed at the airport here by three Malaysian ministers - all of Indian origin.

The three were Deputy Foreign Minister Kohilan Pillai, Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Deva Mani.

Manmohan Singh, who comes here on the invitation of Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, will hold extensive discussions on varied issues with his counterpart. The two are expected to announce the conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

Both prime ministers will also launch the India-Malaysia CEO’s Forum Wednesday to pursue all round and comprehensive economic development. The forum is also expected to promote greater trade and investment once the CECA comes into force.

The 18-member Indian side, which also includes Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon Ltd and Malvinder Singh of Fortis Healthcare, is headed by L&T Chief Managing Director A.M. Naik.

Malaysia is India’s second largest trading partner in the ASEAN region.

If strengthening economic ties is one area of focus, enhancing people to people ties is another. Indian origin communities comprise about 2.1 million, representing eight percent of the country’s population. It is the largest PIO (people of Indian origin) community outside of India.

Accordingly, Manmohan Singh and Razak will jointly launch the renovated Little India area in Brickfields in central Kuala Lumpur. The settlement of Tamil speaking people of Indian origin people is being transformed into Little India as part of the government’s 1Malaysia programme.

The Malaysian government plans to spend about $10 million in refurbishing and upgrading the area, it is learnt.

The prime minister will also have an audience with the king and queen of Malaysia. Several agreements are likely to be signed in areas like infrastructure, IT and health and medicine.

The prime minister leaves here Thursday for Vietnam, where he will take part in the India-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.

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