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  Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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President Vladimir Putin arrived in Malaysia Tuesday for a historic regional summit
President Vladimir Putin arrived in Malaysia Tuesday for a historic regional summit, where he will discuss a number of issues ranging from space to trade. The Russian leader is attending the first summit between Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to be held in the 10 years of the country's interaction with the regional organization. In a move signaling Russia's continuing interest in expanding ties with Asia-Pacific countries, Putin will also attend the first East Asia summit. The event will bring together the 10 Asean members and other nations, such as regional powerhouses Japan, China, South Korea, India, and Australia and New Zealand. The political agenda of the Russia-Asean summit includes the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Middle East, and UN reform, presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists, "In addition to an expanded and intensive political dialogue, the summit will address our interaction in the trade and economic sphere, as well as in countering new threats and challenges." Putin's agenda in Kuala Lumpur also includes a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Chinnawat, which is expected to yield an agreement on visa-free travel for Russian and Thai citizens, Prikhodko said. "Vladimir Putin and Thaksin Chinnawat have already given instructions to draft the document, and we expect it to be signed in Kuala-Lumpur," the official said. Military and technological, and also space cooperation are a significant part of bilateral agenda, particularly as Malaysia is interested in using Russia's space capabilities, Prikhodko said. The first Malaysian astronaut is to fly into space in 2007 as part of a $900-million deal for 18 Russian multipurpose Su-30MKM air superiority fighters that was signed in 2003. Prikhodko also said Russian technologies would be on display during the summit. Another event will be a forum designed to promote corporate ties between the Russian and Asean business communities. Russia will be represented by such high-profile companies as oil major LUKoil, AFK Sistema holding, aircraft-maker MiG, oil and gas company Itera, natural gas giant Gazprom, Rostelecom, and foreign trade bank Vneshtorgbank. Russia has proactively been developing ties in the Asia-Pacific region in the last few years. In September, Lavrov attended a summit held by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, while President Putin made an official visit to Japan. Russia is also an observer in the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Asean member countries are Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines.
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