Arif Ali, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Thu, 2005-02-17 03:00

ISLAMABAD, 17 February 2005 — Pakistan and Malaysia vowed yesterday to accelerate bilateral ties, especially in economic and political fields, with both Muslim countries equally eager to conclude a free trade agreement shortly.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, making his first visit to Pakistan after taking over as Malaysian Prime Minister, told a joint press conference following “comprehensive talks” with his Pakistani counterpart Shaukat Aziz that the two countries were fully geared to boost bilateral cooperation. “Our visit is bound to bring the two Asian countries still closer,” said Badawi. He made special mention of agriculture and telecommunications for joint ventures.

Badawi said Malaysia was also fully aware of its responsibilities as chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and recounted various steps taken in the recent past toward this end to promote enlightened moderation.” Muslims needed such a vision to counter the negative perception about Islam.’’

Aziz told the press conference that the two trade ministers of the two countries are to meet today to pave the way for a free trade agreement (FTA).”We have agreed to start discussions on preferential trade agreement (PTA), which will lead to an FTA .’’

He said the “comprehensive” talks also covered issues in the region, including Kashmir, and reforms in the United Nations, adding Malaysia supported moves going on between Pakistan and India to start a new chapter of good neighborliness in the larger interest of not only the two over-populated, hard-pressed neighbors but also the entire region.

Badwai said ‘’Malaysia will be happy more than anybody else to see South Asia becoming an area of peace and stability and economic dynamism.’’

Badawi is accompanied by a 180-member delegation, including seven Cabinet ministers and about 100 top businessmen. “This is by far the largest Malaysian delegation to visit Pakistan.’’

Badawi will be exchanging views with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf today and visit the International Islamic University where he will be conferred honorary doctorate.

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