Lee Hsien Loong to meet Mahathir in Malaysia for 9th Leaders' Retreat in April

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will meet his Malaysian counterpart, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for the annual Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat which is set for April 8 and 9, 2019. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will meet his counterpart, Tun Mahathir Mohamad, in Putrajaya next month for the 9th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat.

The annual meeting, an important platform to strengthen cooperation and discuss bilateral issues, was to have been held last November, but was postponed.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday (March 27) that Malaysia had proposed that the retreat be held from April 8 to 9, and Singapore agreed.

This Leaders' Retreat is the first to be hosted under the leadership of the Pakatan Harapan government, which came into power last May.

The dates of the retreat were earlier disclosed by Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Tuesday, as part of the country's parliamentary proceedings.

Selayang MP William Leong had filed a question on the current state of Malaysia's relationship with Singapore, in light of the recent maritime border and airspace disputes.

Datuk Saifuddin, in a prepared answer, said the Malaysian government will continue to seek and explore new areas of cooperation to further strengthen Malaysia-Singapore ties. At the same time, priority will be given to resolving bilateral issues peacefully, through discussion and negotiation.

He also mentioned the upcoming Leaders' Retreat, calling it an important mechanism and platform to strengthen cooperation and find solutions together for bilateral issues.

Mr Saifuddin said the closeness between the countries is reflected in the exchange of visits between leaders, since Pakatan Harapan came into power.

He cited his visit to Singapore in January, and working visits to the Republic by others, such as Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali and Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

Mr Saifuddin said the Malaysian government will continue these interactions actively.

"The ongoing diplomatic efforts reflect both governments' commitment towards maintaining good existing ties and understanding on resolving bilateral issues for the sake of mutual interests," he noted.

On a broader note, Mr Saifuddin said the Malaysian government always upholds the principle of forging good friendly ties with all countries, including Singapore.

He said that as a country in a region that is inter-connected, Malaysia wants its neighbours to be prosperous and successful because their success would have spillovers into the region.

Conversely, any difficulties they face would have an adverse effect on the region, including Malaysia, he added.

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