ASHGABAT, Oct 27 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hopes that his visit to Turkmenistan would result in greater interaction and cooperation between Malaysia and Turkmenistan.
Dr Mahathir, who is on a two-day official visit to Turkmenistan beginning today, said both countries could work together in many areas to develop their respective countries.
For example, he said, Malaysia had now moved from a country involved in the automotive to aerospace industry.
“Malaysia’s industry has now taken advantage of the chain of supply for other industries sophisticated industry. We are now going from automotive to aerospace industry. We are involved in a lot of engineering works for aerospace.
“This also we can exchange because the aerospace industry needs a very big supply chain. An aircraft engine has about 30,000 parts and the parts can’t be manufactured by the country producing the engine.
“They have to source the parts from elsewhere and this give many countries a chance to go into this country at the level of manufacturing the components. So we would like to see how to work with Turkmenistan in that area,” he said in a joint press statement at the end of meetings with Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov at the Presidential Palace here on Sunday.
The Malaysian delegation includes Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Minister of Economic Affairs Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and Malaysian ambassador to Turkmenistan Roseli Abdul.
On Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) involvement in oil and gas exploration works in Turkmenistan, Dr Mahathir hoped that the national oil company would continue to be actively involved in this industry.
In 1996, Petronas obtained a 32-year Production Sharing Contract (PSC) licence for exploration and production of oil and gas in the Block-1 offshore area in the Caspian Sea.
Turkmenistan has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world behind Russia, Iran and Qatar, with proven reserves estimated at 20 trillion cubic metres.
However, the numbers could be higher as much of its natural gas deposits have not been explored.
“We are also looking for new cooperation. Turkmenistan is producing a lot of cotton, and Malaysia would like to look into the industry. This is something not promoted in Malaysia in the past,” he added.
Dr Mahathir also gave an assurance that Turkmenistan students who are studying in Malaysia would not be exposed to the wrong kind of culture like in some other countries.
He said the students could also serve as bridges in strengthening relationships between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Berdimuhamedov said the partnership with Malaysia is important, describing Malaysia as a friendly nation.
“We will continue to develop our bilateral ties. Tun Mahathir, since our early days of independence, has contributed enormously to our development. We extend our gratitude for his contribution and to their friendly nation,” he added.
Tonight, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to attend a dinner with some 80 Malaysians residing and working in Turkmenistan.
The prime minister and his wife are expected to depart for Malaysia tomorrow. — Bernama