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Abdullah in talks with Bahrain leader

MANAMA (Bahrain), 19 Jan 2009: Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi held talks with his Bahraini counterpart, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, on the second and final day of his visit to this Gulf nation today.

Both leaders led their respective delegations at the bilateral meeting held at the Gudaibiya Palace here. Prior to that, Abdullah was accorded an official welcoming ceremony by his Bahraini hosts.

According to a senior official, Abdullah’s remarks at the start of the meeting touched on efforts to move bilateral ties forward as well as the situation in Gaza Strip, the stage of a ruthless Israeli military offensive which started on 27 Dec that has killed more than 1,200 Palestinians.

“The Malaysian prime minister stated that the unilateral declaration of ceasefire by Israel would mean nothing unless and until certain other conditions are met,” said the official.

These included that the ceasefire must be permanent; Israeli forces must withdraw from Gaza completely; the Israeli blockade of Gaza must be lifted totally; and a United Nations peacekeeping force must be deployed in the coastal enclave.

The official said Abdullah noted that the Middle East must be allowed to return to the road of peace and that Israeli occupation of Palestine, which began in 1967, must finally be brought to an end.

“He stated that a Palestinian state which coexists alongside Israel in peace and security must be established and that there must be a just, lasting and comprehensive peace for the Middle East as a whole,” he added.

According to the official, the Malaysian leader favoured the convening of the first joint commission meeting between Malaysia and Bahrain to discuss ways to expand bilateral ties.

“The prime minister also expressed hope that Proton and Perodua vehicles made by Malaysian automakers can enter the Bahraini market,” he said.

Malaysia is also seeking to work with Bahrain in areas such as tourism, Islamic banking and finance, halal products and services as well as education.

Abdullah took the opportunity to point out that many Malaysian firms were involved in the development process in Bahrain, according to the official.

They include four financial institutions, eight construction companies, two ICT companies, two architectural firms, two consultancy firms and two food chain companies.

Malaysia was the first country from Southeast Asia to establish diplomatic relations with Bahrain.

Abdullah is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the Malaysia-Bahrain business seminar and meet the Malaysian community in Bahrain before leaving for Qatar tonight. — Bernama


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