ASTANA, May 16 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim arrived in Kazakhstan today for his inaugural official two-day visit aimed at further strengthening the long-standing relationship between the two countries, which spanned over three decades.

The prime minister’s aircraft landed at Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport here at 1pm (4pm Malaysian time) after departing from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Anwar was welcomed by his counterpart, Olzhas Bektenov, Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Alibek Bakayev, Mayor of Astana Zhenis Kassymbek, Malaysian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Mohd Adli Abdullah and officials from the Malaysian Embassy here.

The Malaysian delegation includes Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan; Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz; Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing; Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Mohd Na’im Mokhtar; as well as senior officials from various ministries and agencies.

Advertisement

The last visit by the Malaysian prime minister to Kazakhstan, the largest Central Asian country with a population of almost 20 million, was in 2014, a decade ago.

The official visit symbolises Malaysia’s commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Kazakhstan, which was first forged on March 16, 1992, covering various sectors such as trade, investment, higher education, tourism and halal industry, for mutual benefit.

Upon arrival, Anwar who is also the finance minister, will visit the Astana Grand Mosque here, the largest mosque in Central Asia and one of the largest mosques in the world, which serves as a significant religious centre in the city.

Advertisement

Approximately 70 per cent of the population in Kazakhstan are Muslims, with around 2,900 mosques located throughout the ninth-largest country in the world.

After visiting the mosque, the prime minister will be accorded an official welcoming ceremony by Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the President Palace (Ak Orda) before the two leaders engage in a bilateral meeting for a broader discussion involving both delegations.

A joint statement will be signed following the meeting before the prime minister and the Malaysian delegation are honoured with a dinner banquet hosted by Tokayev.

Before concluding his visit tomorrow, the prime minister is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the roundtable session on trade and investment cooperation between Malaysia and Kazakhstan here.

Bektenov is also scheduled to attend the session, which aims to foster collaboration and partnership between companies in both countries in the economic, trade, and investment sectors.

The prime minister is also scheduled to witness the exchange of several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) involving relevant government agencies and businesses from both sides.

Malaysia’s total trade with Kazakhstan in 2023 stood at RM474.5 million, with RM465.6 million being exports of Malaysian goods to Kazakhstan and RM8.9 million being the value of imports from Kazakhstan.

Anwar had earlier made an official visit to Kyrgyzstan. After this, the prime minister will proceed with an official visit to Uzbekistan. — Bernama