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Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

Malaysia wants relations to reach ‘higher level’ with Saudi Arabia, PM says 

Malaysia wants relations to reach ‘higher level’ with Saudi Arabia, PM says 

Malaysia is committed to improving relations and exploring new areas of cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Thursday, as the two countries agree to finalize discussions on establishing a bilateral coordination council.
Talks to form the Saudi Arabia-Malaysia Coordination Council have been ongoing since September 2020, and the matter was again discussed in a meeting between Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abd Kadir and his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh earlier this week.

The Malaysian premier, in a series of tweets posted on Thursday, congratulated Saudi leaders for the Kingdom’s Founding Day and said his government is committed to boosting ties.

“Malaysia is committed to elevating the brotherly relations with the Kingdom to a higher level, especially in trade, investment, education, and culture as well as exploring new potential areas of cooperation,” Anwar said.

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia established diplomatic relations in 1961. The Kingdom has long funded mosques and schools across the Southeast Asian nation, while also providing scholarships for Malaysians to study in the Gulf country. The Southeast Asian country was also one of the countries King Salman visited in his 2017 Asian tour.

The Malaysian foreign minister arrived in Riyadh on Sunday for a state visit and met top officials and leaders of international organizations based in the Kingdom, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The new areas of bilateral cooperation can be explored through the SMCC, Kadir wrote on Twitter.

The council will serve as the main platform for future cooperation across sectors and ministries between the two countries, Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, adding that both countries agreed to increase bilateral trade.

“These include finding space and opportunities through Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which is indeed a very good development agenda to be explored together,” Zambry said, as quoted in a statement.

Shahriman Lockman, director of special projects at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur, said the SMCC will be key for Malaysia.

“The SMCC is essential to Malaysia primarily because it wants to take part in the epochal transformation that’s taking place in Saudi Arabia,” Lockman told Arab News.

“Malaysia sees how Saudi Arabia is reorienting its economy and society for an era in which oil and gas are likely to play a less significant role than they do today,” he said.

“People in the Malaysian foreign policy establishment realize that we should be plugged into that transformation sooner rather than later.”

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