|Uzbekistan To Boost Cooperation With Malaysia
By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 (Bernama) -- Uzbekistan is eyeing greater cooperation with Malaysia in the various fields, especially the oil and gas, education, tourism and information, communications and technology (ICT), its Ambassador to Malaysia Aybek Khasanov said.
He said Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov's visit to Malaysia in October last year was aimed at boosting ties between the two countries.
Following the visit, both parties signed memorandums of understanding covering areas such as tourism, joint-trade committee and mineral resources development.
"We are actively looking into the cooperation in the oil and gas sector. Petroliam Nasional Bhd is in Uzbekistan and and doing a good job," he told Bernama in an interview here recently.
Khasanov said this year, both countries had signed five agreements to explore and develop the gas field in Uzbekistan together with state oil and gas corporations of Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Russia, China and South Korea.
Uzbekistan, a country of 447,400 sq km, is surrounded by Afghanistan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Home to over 26 million people, Uzbekistan, a republic, has declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Khasanov said relations between Malaysia and Uzbekistan were good.
"We established the diplomatic ties in the early years of our independence. The Malaysian embassy was established in Tashkent in 1993," he said.
He said the Uzbekistan embassy here was set up in 1999.
"So this makes the challenges quite big to be in a new country to start new things to do and to promote bilateral relations between Malaysia and Uzbekistan," he said.
Khasanov said the embassy here has received cooperation from the government or private agencies.
"Recently, we received a delegation from Tourism Malaysia and the participation of Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor at the 12th annual tourism fair in Tashkent.
He said the visit offered a good opportunity to establish links with Uzbekistan's travel and tour operators apart from promoting Visit Malaysia Year 2007.
Khasanov said a delegation from the Ministry of Higher Education was also in Tashkent.
"We also see the educational sphere as one of the priorities in the context of government structure," he said.
On human capital, he said, Uzbekistan has a huge human capital while Malaysia has experience in education field, particularly in ICT, and hoped to cooperate in the sector.
Currently, he said, there were about 20 joint-venture companies operating in Uzbekistan with the participation of the Malaysian capital.
On economy, he said, Uzbekistan is the world's second largest exporter of cotton.
"This year, we produced 3.5 million metric tonne of cotton," he said.
He said Uzbekistan has huge reserves of natural resources including coal, gold, copper, uranium and oil and gas.
Khasanov said the one of the most important events for the country was the visit of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tengku Fauziah Almarhum Tengku Abdul Rashid, the first royal couple in the world to visit the country since it gained independence.