By Rosmalis Anuar
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 (NNN-Bernama) — France strongly views Malaysia as its solid partner in the Southeast Asian region and wants to strengthen both countries’ connection, said Director for Asia and Oceania of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, M. Bertrand Lortholary.
The seasoned diplomat, who is on his working tour in this region, said there have been high level interactions between the two countries, including in the field of military equipment, which have been a significant base for building further trust between the two countries.
“We certainly view the friendship with Malaysia as a relation between trusted partners and it has been the case for several decades,” he said during his visit to the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama), here on Thursday.
Accompanied by the French Ambassador to Malaysia Roland Galharague, Lortholary also met with Bernama Chairman Senator Ras Adiba Radzi.
He arrived in Malaysia on Thursday from Jakarta after accompanying French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during an official visit to Indonesia. The French diplomat will leave to Manila and then Brunei before heading back home.
Lortholary said cooperation with Malaysia and other ASEAN member countries will be further elevated following the establishment of ASEAN-France development partnership that will pave the way for a stronger collaboration between the two sides.
Through the partnership, Lortholary noted that France would continue working with ASEAN member states in mutually beneficial development projects and programmes, driven by the French Development Agency (AFD).
“We want to be able to work at the regional level with ASEAN as an institution, and so we are starting to implement programmes at the regional level. We have been doing that on health issues and prevention of infectious diseases.
“We are now working on the issue of air pollution at the regional level. So, there will be more to come,” he said.
Meanwhile, Galharague pointed out that France and Malaysia have been working on programmes in health sector, including training for Malaysian scientists in the field of genomic sequencing which is crucial in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re also planning to work together in the fields of the transmission of animal diseases to human.
“Another project that will be launched soon in Sabah relates to sustainable forestry because we know that the conservation of oil palm is crucial to Malaysia and we want to help to ensure that this is done in a sustainable manner,” he said.
On the economic front, the ambassador pointed out that Malaysia-France have enjoyed a fruitful ties, with over 300 French companies currently operating in Malaysia as well as a very substantial level of trade.
The Malaysia’s trade and investment mission to France last month, headed by Senior Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, had successfully generated total potential investment of RM2.6 billion (US$612.5 million) and RM300 million (US$70.6 million) worth of potential exports.