Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that India and Malaysia have agreed to further strengthen bilateral strategic cooperation while continuing with joint anti-terrorism efforts. “We live in times and in a region, where both conventional and non-conventional security threats are constantly on the rise,” Modi said while jointly addressing the media with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak following delegation-level talks between the two sides. “Prime Minister Najib and I agreed that these challenges threaten the stability and economic prosperity of our countries and the region and, require us and other countries of the region to work together. “In this context, I deeply appreciate our continuing cooperation with the Malaysian government in our joint anti-terrorism efforts,” he said. Modi praised Razak for his leadership in countering radicalisation and terrorism and said it “is an inspiration for the entire region”.
He also said that he and Razak were conscious of their “role and responsibility in promoting economic prosperity, freedom of navigation, and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, especially its oceans”. “To secure our societies, and for the greater regional good, we have agreed to further strengthen our strategic partnership to shape an effective response to our common concerns and challenges,” he said. On the economic side, Modi said both countries “have built a thriving economic partnership”. “In our efforts to scale this up, as the fastest growing large economy in the world, India offers unparalleled opportunities.
“And, to build new avenues of prosperity in our societies we are ready to expand trade and capital flows between our two economies.” Modi also said that business partnerships forged between the two countries would enhance the level and momentum of commercial engagement. “We are also converging efforts aimed at food security that are linked to the well-being of our farmers,” he said. On his part, Razak said that the defence and strategic partnership would be very important for both countries to fight global terrorism, militancy and extremism, including the fight against the Islamic State terror outfit.
He expressed “deep admiration” for Modi for undertaking bold economic reforms and congratulated the Indian leader for the country’s high economic growth. Terming their bilateral relationship at a “historic high”, Razak said that there was still potential that could be fulfilled. He said that with the end of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has become all the more important. RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the six countries with which Asean has free trade agreements – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Following Saturday’s talks, India and Malaysia signed agreements, including on civil aviation, education, human resource development and setting up of a fertiliser plant in Malaysia and a technology park in Andhra Pradesh. A joint statement statement issued later reaffirmed the importance of strategic engagement of India in regional initiatives and stability in the region, while appreciating the growing engagement between India and Asean, especially in light of India’s ‘Act East’ policy.
On the cooperation in the field of traditional medicine, like ayurveda and siddha, the two sides welcomed the signing of an MoU between Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia and National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur, in December 2016 for cooperation in the field of education, training, research and popularisation of ayurveda in Malaysia. India welcomed the initiative by Malaysia to expand the visa-free programme for Indian nationals from April 1, 2017, until March 31, 2018, under the Electronic Travel Registration and Information system.
Earlier in the day, Razak was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan here. He subsequently called on President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj too called on the visiting dignitary. Razak arrived in Chennai on Thursday on a six-day visit to India and reached New Delhi on Friday evening. He will also visit Jaipur on Sunday where he will meet Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia. The is the Malaysian Prime Minister’s third official visit to India. The delegation accompanying him includes 10 cabinet ministers and over 80 business leaders.