Prime Minister Modi, who arrived on Thursday on the second leg of his three-nation tour, met 92-year-old Mahathir in his office at Perdana Putra Complex, Putrajaya. “Glad to have met Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. I thank him for the warm welcome. We had productive discussions on further cementing India-Malaysia ties,” PM Modi tweeted in both Malay and English.
The two leaders discussed ways to boost economic and cultural relations between India and Malaysia. Modi is among the first world leaders to meet Mahathir, who became the world’s oldest elected leader when his opposition alliance registered a stunning victory over the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which had ruled Malaysia since 1957.
Mahathir was sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister on May 10. This is the first meeting between the two leaders. Prime Minister Modi last visited Malaysia in November 2015. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders had a productive exchange of views on strengthening the strategic partnership.
Prime Minister Modi congratulated Dr. Mahathir on assuming the post of Prime Minister of Malaysia, he added. Malaysia and India have close ties with culture and history as well as in various key areas, particularly infrastructure development, education, tourism and defense. India is Malaysia’s largest trading partner in South Asia with total turnover of RM 61.43 billion (USD 15.44 billion) in 2017. Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office said that Modi will be discussing aspects relating to India-Malaysia cooperation with Mahathir. “Malaysia is a strategic partner and a priority country in our Act East Policy,” Kumar said. Prime Modi had announced in New Delhi that on his way to Singapore, he will make a brief halt in Malaysia to meet Mahathir and congratulate the new Malaysian leadership. From Kuala Lumpur, Prime Minister Modi will travel to Singapore where he will deliver a keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security meeting, on Friday.