Exclusive report by D. Arul Rajoo
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN, Oct 24 -- Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived in the Azerbaijan capital today to attend the 18th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit.
The special aircraft carrying Dr Mahathir touched down at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport at 7.15pm local time (four hours behind Malaysian time).
Upon arrival, the prime minister and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali were welcomed by Azerbaijan Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev, Malaysian Ambassador to the country Datuk Yubazlan Yusof and senior officials from both countries.
On Friday morning, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to be interviewed by UK-based Islam Channel before joining leaders from more than 20 countries at the opening of the 18th NAM Summit at the Baku Congress Centre.
Dr Mahathir, who last attended the NAM Summit when Malaysia hosted it in 2003, will then participate in the General Debate on the Summit theme of ‘Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world’.
Malaysian officials said that Dr Mahathir, in his remarks at the plenary session, is expected to touch on the current state of world affairs, the impact of trade wars, criminalising war and war not a solution to disputes, the Palestinian issue and the need for NAM to remain united.
He is also expected to meet several leaders attending the two-day summit, among them Pakistan President Arif Alvi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
On his third day here, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to visit Greentech Farm, a modern greenhouse complex that utilises state-of-the-art technology in the production of organic vegetables.
He will also visit the office of Petronas, which has to date invested more than US$4 billion (RM16.74 billion) in Azerbaijan.
According to reports, Petronas has a 15.5 per cent stake in the Shah Deniz project and in the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline, and a 12.4 per cent stake in the Azerbaijan Gas Supply Company.
Dr Mahathir will also meet the Malaysian diaspora in Azerbaijan and hold a press conference for the Malaysian media before leaving for Ashgabat for a two-day visit to Turkmenistan.