VLADIVOSTOK, Sept 6 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has described his working visit to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) here as very fruitful, committing to cooperate even closer with countries located in the Far East, especially Russia.

Dr Mahathir appreciated the warm welcome as well as gracious hospitality and arrangement accorded to him by the Russian government and event organiser, Roscongress.

His trip to the major port city located in Russia’s Far East was at the invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin to participate in the forum which discusses new collaboration and economic potential of the Far East.

The prime minister, who attended the forum for the first time said, he was delighted and impressed with the initiatives taken by Putin to develop Russia’ eastern provinces.

The 94-year-old Prime Minister who arrived here on Wednesday was given a warm welcome during the session, with participants at the forum erupted into a spontaneous round of applause when he walked to the rostrum to deliver his remarks.

At the plenary session, a key event of the forum, Dr Mahathir highlighted that Malaysia has always had the impression that Russia was not paying enough attention to its Far East territories.

“But now we see that the interest is very real and to us, this may mean the opening of a new market for Malaysia,” he said.

With Russian participation in the development of the Far East, he believed people residing in the Far East especially and Asian generally, would benefit from development activities.

He expressed confidence that Malaysian investors will be flocking to Vladivostok if the economic situation in the province is attractive enough.

Located at Russia’s borders with China and North Korea, Vladivostok is a fast-growing city which served as the administrative centre of Primorsky Krai region under the Far Eastern Federal District.

It was learnt that Putin designated the development of the Far East as a national priority of the entire 21st century.

The Kremlin is developing a whole new economy in the region where large companies, as well as small and medium-sized businesses, could count on tax breaks, concessional loans and support from the state development institutions.

Elaborating on bilateral relations between the two countries, Dr Mahathir said ties between Malaysia and Russia have always been good, adding that, he covered a lot of areas where both countries could work together.

“I can see only benefit from our closer relationship,” he said.

The visit seems to have further enhanced diplomatic ties between Kuala Lumpur and Moscow, judging from the closeness of relations displayed by Dr Mahathir and Putin throughout his visit to Russia’s the Far East.

Economically, there are clear signs that the Far East has a lot of business potential which could present huge opportunities for Malaysian companies to tap. — Bernama