India and Malaysia will enhance their security and defence cooperation, including efforts aimed at countering terrorism and joint military exercises and training, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.
Modi made the remarks at a press interaction with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak at Putrajaya, the federal administrative capital located 25 km from Kuala Lumpur. Efforts to combat terrorism have figured in all of Modi’s interactions at two weekend summits and bilateral meetings in Malaysia.
The recent spate of attacks in different countries and the “ceaseless terrorist attempts against India and Afghanistan”, he said, are a reminder of the “global nature of this threat”.
Thanking Najib for bilateral security cooperation, Modi said this reflects the shared commitment of India and Malaysia to deal with security challenges. “We will continue to deepen cooperation in this area,” he added.
The two sides will also strengthen defence cooperation, including maritime security and disaster response in the region, he said.
“I am pleased that we have agreed to upgrade our joint exercises and set up the Su-30 Forum,” he said. “We will do more in terms of level and complexity of exercises, and collaboration in training and defence equipment.”
The air forces of both countries operate the Russian-made Sukhoi-30 combat jet and the fighter used by Malaysia – Su-30MKM - is based closely on the design of the Su-30MKI flown by the Indian Air Force. During 2008-2010, an IAF team of more than 50 members was deployed in Gong Kedak airbase to train pilots of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Modi held talks with Najib on the third and final day of his visit to Malaysia, where he attended the ASEAN-India and East Asia Summits. The external affairs ministry said the talks were aimed at building a “well-rounded partnership”.
“Our strategic partnership will go to a new level. Looking forward to welcome PM @NajibRazak to India,” Modi’s official Twitter handle tweeted.
Modi noted Najib’s leadership in “combating extremism and radicalisation, rejecting any link between terrorism and religion, and in highlighting the real values of Islam”. This, he remarked, is a “great contribution to an important aspect of our global efforts” against terrorism.
Over the weekend, Najib denounced the Islamic State as an “evil” terrorist group and said Muslim-majority Malaysia is ready to join others to defeat it. He called for defeating the ideology of the IS and said the world is in need of the moderation that helped Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela win the hearts and minds of enemies.
During the media interaction, Najib said: “Mr Modi is a man of action. He wants things to be implemented expeditiously. He has got a proven track record as a chief minister, and now as Prime Minister.” He described the talks as “productive and constructive”.
Modi further said bilateral trade and investment relations can be “scaled up significantly” and Malaysia’s competence in infrastructure was well known.
Earlier, Modi and his delegation travelled to the Putrajaya, an “intelligent garden city” built on marshland and a former oil palm estate south of Kuala Lumpur, for the meeting with Najib.
Najib warmly welcomed Modi, clad in a bandhgala, by embracing him when he stepped out of the car at Perdana Square. Modi inspected a guard of honour presented by the Royal Malay Regiment. The national anthems of both countries were played, after which Modi was introduced to the Malaysian cabinet, ministers and other dignitaries.
The two Prime Ministers then held a one-to-one meeting that was followed by delegation-level talks. The campaign against international terrorism, which overshadowed the two regional summits, and ways to boost trade and investment dominated the discussions, officials said.
Modi also raised issues affecting the Indian diaspora and expatriates, such as the early conclusion of an agreement on mutual recognition of educational degrees.