PM Najib given official welcoming ceremony

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak was accorded an official welcoming ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace here today in conjunction with his six-day visit to India.

Accompanied by wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and several Cabinet ministers, Najib arrived at the Presidential Palace at 9am and was greeted by his host and counterpart Narendra Modi.

Najib then inspected a guard-of-honour mounted by the Indian Armed Forces before being introduced to the country's cabinet ministers.

In his brief remarks to the media, Najib, with Modi on his side, said he thanked the premier for the invitation and was looking forward to the visit.

"I am confident that this visit will enhance our bilateral relationship to a higher level," he said.

He then proceeded to lay a wreath at Gandhi Smriti, Raj Ghat, a national shrine where the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi was cremated on Jan 31, 1948 following his assassination.

Najib then paid a courtesy call on Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President, Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

The visit underlines the strong bilateral relations between the two countries, which have been established for 60 years.

The visit, at the invitation of Modi, will be Najib's third to India since assuming office as Prime Minister in 2009.

Later today, the premier will attend a restricted meeting with Modi and bilateral meeting with senior members of both delegations.

Issues on the table expected to be discussed during the bilateral meeting include trade and investment, infrastructure projects, defence cooperation, air service arrangements, tourism and culture relations as well as issues of mutual concern on regional andinternational cooperation.

Najib arrived in the southern Indian city of Chennai on Thursday where he attended an official reception hosted by the Acting Governor of Tamil Nadu, Vidhyasagar Rao, meetings with the business community and also met with Tamil film superstar Rajinikanth.

Apart from the bilateral meeting, Najib will also be holding dialogue sessions with leaders and captains of industry from major business sectors in India.

Najib is then scheduled to travel to Jaipur on Sunday to attend a high level discussion on the progress of Malaysian companies in infrastructure projects in the state of Rajasthan.

The prime minister is also expected to attend a business luncheon and the 7th Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council Meeting (GSIAC) in the Indian capital on Monday, before officiating the High Commission of Malaysia's New Complex on Tuesday.

India is currently Malaysia's tenth largest trading partner, seventh largest export destination, 12th largest source of imports, and is also currently Malaysia's 20th largest investor, with total investment worth US$2.31 billion (RM10.22 billion). — Bernama