MANAMA (Bahrain), 20 Jan 2009: In a move that can only spell enhanced relations between Malaysia and Bahrain, this Gulf nation is set to open its embassy in Kuala Lumpur, said Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
He said Bahrain was also receptive to Malaysia’s request for the visa validity period for Malaysian visitors to be extended to three months from the current 14 days.
These were among the outcome of talks between Malaysian and Bahraini leaders in conjunction with the two-day official visit by Abdullah to Bahrain which ended last night.
He also disclosed to Malaysian journalists covering his visit here that his Bahraini counterpart, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, was expected to visit Malaysia in March during which he would inaugurate the embassy.
“Malaysia is hopeful that the Malaysia-Bahrain joint commission meeting will also take place during the visit to discuss ways to further expand our bilateral relations,” he said.
Abdullah said the two countries discussed the possibility of relaunching direct air services between their capital cities of Manama and Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines used to fly to Bahrain but the service was discontinued following the carrier’s rationalisation programme, he said.
“If MAS is not able to fly here, maybe other airlines like AirAsia would consider it,” he added.
Abdullah also said that a proposal for the formation of a Malaysia-Bahrain friendship association had been well-received by Bahraini authorities.
He said Shaikh Khalifa felt that such a body would contribute positively towards enhancing ties between the peoples of Bahrain and Malaysia.
Based on his interactions with Bahraini rulers, Abdullah said, both sides were keen to further expand linkages in areas such as trade and investment, construction, agriculture, food production, information communication technology, education, science and technology as well as tourism.
“Another area of interest would be Islamic banking and finance,” he said, adding that cooperation between Malaysia and Bahrain in the halal industry should also be enhanced.
Fielding questions from the floor at the Malaysia-Bahrain business forum earlier, the prime minister said the government would try to keep the number of layoffs low in the current challenging economic climate.
Efforts were being made to ensure the resilience of the domestic economy in the face of adverse world economic conditions, he added. — Bernama