MELBOURNE: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is set to make his first official visit to Australia, leading Malaysia’s delegation to two significant engagements - the Malaysia-Australia Annual Leaders’ Meeting (ALM) and the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.

Anwar is making the visit at the invitation of Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, which will begin in Melbourne on Sunday and wind up in Canberra on March 7.

Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia Sharrina Abdullah said the visit marks a significant milestone in the enduring partnership between the two nations through bilateral and multilateral platforms.

She said Malaysia and Australia’s relationship has gone from strength to strength and has become more significant with the establishment of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in 2021.

“We are in a very healthy relationship with Australia,” she told a media briefing ahead of Anwar’s visit on Sunday.

She said Malaysia and Australia’s relationship was very notable in diplomatic, educational and social aspects, and trade and investment, which were showing stark positive progress.

In education, for example, she said there are over 18,000 Malaysian students currently in Australia, with the largest being in Victoria with about 9,000 students.

She said the visit demonstrates both countries’ determination to enhance collaboration in key areas of strategic importance and shared commitment to deepening diplomatic, economic and cultural ties.

Elaborating on the 2nd ALM, Sharrina said the meeting on Monday is aimed at bolstering cooperation across various sectors, including trade, investment, security and regional stability.

The meeting is also significant because it will be convened physically for the first time after the inaugural session in 2021 was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the meeting, both leaders will deliberate further measures to advance the wide spectrum of cooperation underpinned by the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership framework, including in trade and investment, education, the digital economy and cybersecurity,” she said.

Sharrina said among the issues to be raised during the Malaysia-Australia bilateral meeting is institution strengthening, including parliamentary exchanges, integrity, wages, anti-corruption efforts and working together in the area of clean energy transition, she said.

On the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2024, she said it is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Australia becoming ASEAN’s first dialogue partner.

This will be the second time Australia is hosting leaders of ASEAN member states. The first was held in Sydney in 2018.

“ASEAN and Australia will review the current state of the ASEAN-Australia partnership and discuss the enhancement of existing cooperation in various areas, among others, energy transition, human capital development, economic integration and maritime connectivity,” she said.

The Special Summit is expected to adopt the ASEAN-Australia Leaders’ Vision Statement and the Melbourne Declaration as guiding documents to further advance the strategic direction of the ASEAN-Australia partnership, she said.

While in Melbourne, Anwar will hold roundtable and one-on-one meetings with captains of industry to add synergy in accelerating trade and investment activities and deliver a keynote address at the Invest ASEAN-Melbourne 2024.

Anwar will also meet the prime ministers of Thailand and New Zealand on the sidelines of the special summit and meet the Malaysian diaspora.

He will also witness the signing of several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in key areas such as higher education, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and research, youth and sports, cybersecurity, and practical arrangements related to cooperation in the areas of science and technology and their applications for the implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

While in Canberra, Anwar is scheduled to deliver a public lecture at the Australian National University (ANU) and call on the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, David Hurley, on March 7.

Sharrina said the visit is expected to yield significant outcomes in bilateral agreements, MoUs and joint initiatives to further cement the robust and dynamic partnership between Malaysia and Australia.

“This visit not only serves as a testament to the enduring friendship between the two nations but also sets the stage for a new chapter of enhanced cooperation, mutual respect and shared prosperity between Malaysia and Australia, on both bilateral and multilateral platforms,” she said. - Bernama

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