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PM arrives in Malaysia

By Prasanta J BarUah

KUALA LAMPUR, Oct 26 � Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh arrived here on a two-day visit to Malaysia in a bid to give boost to the growing bilateral relations between the two countries.Dr Singh is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Malaysia in nine years, after Atal Bihari Vajpayee�s visit way back in December, 2001.

Dr Singh�s visit has come at a time when both the countries are coming closer economically and politically. Significantly, a free trade agreement is on the cards with seven rounds of discussions already being held in seven months. Trade between the two countries have grown from 5billion dollars in 2005 to 10billion dollars in 2008.

A large number of Indian companies like Reliancs, Larsen and Toubro, Ballarpur Industries among others have lined up huge investments in Malaysia. Reliance is setting up the largest polyester unit worth 300 million dollars.

Malaysia is also seeing benefits of exporting palm oil and investment opportunities by Malaysian infrastructure companies in the proposed Indian investment worth about one trillion dollars in the coming years.

Defence cooperation between the two countries have also oncreased in recent years. The importance Malaysia attaches to India can be gauged from the fact Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib visited India after coming to power before visiting other countries,A large Indian diaspora of about two million live in Malaysia. Connectivity between the two countries have also increased in recent years with about 115 direct flights a week between the two countries.The Indian Air Force has been training Malaysian pilots in Sukhoi aircrafts, besides cooperating in joint exercises to combat piracy on the high seas.

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