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Malaysian premier seeks closer ties with Singapore

By Thursday May 21st, 2009 No Comments

Singapore_(dpa) _ Malaysia’s new prime minister, Najib Razak, in a media interview published Thursday called for closer ties and more cooperation with neighbouring Singapore despite a sometimes shaky relationship in the past. “It is incumbent upon our two governments to not allow some difficult, or if you like, thorny, bilateral issues to impede and hamper whatever progress we can achieve in areas which are more doable and more achievable,” Najib said in an interview with the Straits Times newspaper.

The Malaysian prime minister was expected to arrive for a two-day introductory visit to Singapore Thursday afternoon to hold meetings with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other government officials.

Najib, who took office April 3, said the sharp rhetoric between the two countries had almost disappeared. There has been “a considerable warming-up and improvement in terms of our bilateral ties,” he said.

Malaysia and Singapore should seek closer cooperation in economic areas, for example in the Iskandar project, Malaysia’s southern development corridor in Johor state.

Lee “has suggested that we should look into one or two iconic investments that would be a clear manifestation of our growing relationship,” Najib said.

Malaysia’s prime minister was cautious when asked about a revival of plans for a new bridge to replace the Johor-Singapore Causeway, which links the two countries, an issue that has raised some problems in bilateral ties.

“I wouldn’t want to proceed until there’s a real, positive finality to the whole project,” he said. “So let’s get a study of all aspects of the project – and there’s no timeframe, of course.”

The bridge project had been brought up by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad but was eventually scrapped by his successor Abdullah Badawi in 2006.

Source : DPA

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