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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Malaysia Talks Focus on High-Tech

APPutin and Badawi shaking hands at a meeting in the Kremlin on the second day of the Malaysian prime minister's visit.
President Vladimir Putin and the Malaysian Prime Minister on Tuesday discussed ways to increase cooperation in energy, military and technology as Russia prepares to send the first Malaysian into space this fall.

"Consistent strengthening of the partnership between Gazprom and Rosneft with Malaysia's Petronas is indicative" of future opportunities, said Putin after two hours of talks with Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the Kremlin.

Both countries are members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum that in April agreed to study the formation of global gas prices that could lead to the creation of a gas equivalent of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Earlier this month, Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev traveled to Kuala Lumpur, where he signed an initial agreement with Petronas to cooperate in energy projects worldwide. Malaysia's state oil firm bought $1.1 billion worth of Rosneft stock in the company's initial public offering in July.

Badawi agreed cooperation in energy was promising but stressed that joint projects in high-tech and other areas could be equally interesting.

"We certainly place a lot of hope on Petronas," Badawi said. "But it's certainly the area of technology that can provide many opportunities for your young people."

IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman, who also took part in the talks, said after the meeting that the countries were gearing up to boost cooperation in high-tech and that the first agreement could be signed toward the end of the year.

Malaysian companies are interested in making microchips in Russia, Reiman said. He added that Russia was also studying Malaysia's experience in telemedicine -- the use of IT for the delivery of clinical care -- and the so-called the Multimedia Super Corridor, the Malaysian government's drive to turn the nation into a high-tech manufacturing center.

"We are studying their experience in techno-parks quite thoroughly," Reiman said.

Putin agreed that cooperation in arms, high-tech and space research had "solid potential," noting that Russia planned to send a Malaysian cosmonaut into space in October.

The deal to send the country's first cosmonaut into space is part of a 2003 deal in which Moscow sold Kuala Lumpur 18 Sukhoi fighter jets worth more than $900 million. Russian officials hope space cooperation will lead Malaysia to buy more arms from Russia.

Putin and Badawi signed a joint communique calling for intensification of political, economic and cultural ties. The communique also reaffirmed the need for Iran to end its uranium enrichment program and Russia's call to conduct an international Middle East peace conference

No business agreements are to be signed during Badawi's visit, which concludes Thursday, a Malaysian foreign ministry official said, adding that the visit is intended to revive bilateral relations and take them beyond energy cooperation.

Petronas CEO Tan Sri Dato Hassan Marican participated in the talks but did not make any statements.

The leaders also discussed Russia's entry to the Organization of Islamic Conference, the world's largest Muslim group, Reiman said. The OIC, where Russia holds an observer's status, is currently chaired by Malaysia.

On Wednesday, Badawi is to deliver a speech about the role of Islam in the world at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, where he will be awarded a doctorate. On Thursday, he is scheduled to go on a private trip to St. Petersburg.

Putin, who traveled to Malaysia in 2003, accepted Badawi's invitation to visit again, the Kremlin said.