BISHKEK, May 15 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has described his visit to the Kyrgyz Republic as very important, emphasising Malaysia’s keenness to work with the landlocked country in various areas that could be developed together.

Anwar highlighted key sectors of interest such as the halal ecosystem, trade and investment, education, and tourism, underscoring the need for enhanced transport connectivity between the two nations.

He emphasised the significance of air routes in strengthening cooperation in these fields.

“Thank you for giving us the offer of the Fifth Freedom Rights. Therefore, we will speak to our airlines, should they be able to arrange (flight schedule) at least once a week or twice a week for a start.

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“It is tough sometimes to persuade the airlines to start, but from experience, once you start, people will start seeing the beauty (of it),” he said.

Anwar, who is on a two-day official visit to the Kyrgyz Republic, said this during a joint press conference with the country’s President Sadyr Zhaparov after they had a four-eyed meeting at the Ala Archa State Residence here today.

According to an international English-language newspaper, fifth-freedom flights allow a carrier to fly from its home country to another and offload passengers and freight, before picking up passengers and cargo and proceeding to a third country.

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Anwar also expressed Malaysia’s commitment to enhancing bilateral relations with the Kyrgyz Republic, affirming the dedication of relevant Malaysian parties, including government agencies and the private sector.

Regarding halal cooperation, Anwar emphasised its enormous potential, highlighting the participation of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Mohd Na’im Mokhtar and Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general Datuk Hakimah Mohd Yusoff in the Malaysian delegation.

“This (Jakim) is a very important department which deals with halal, issuing the certification of halal,” he said.

On education, Anwar invited students, professors, researchers and other individuals in various fields from the Kyrgyz Republic to go to Malaysia for learning programmes, exchange of views or research on related issues.

Anwar said Malaysia is eager to collaborate with the Kyrgyz Republic in various fields and that this is evident from the presence of several key ministers in his delegation.

Apart from Mohd Na’im, also present were Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, Minister of Higher Education Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, and Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

Meanwhile, Zhaparov expressed his country’s anticipation for a new high-level cooperation with Malaysia, reflecting on the relationship that began in 1992.

“I am confident of our future cooperation and give full commitment for our cooperation to work,” he said. — Bernama