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Visit to Malaysia.

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I will visit Malaysia from 29 November to 1 December for discussions with Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Australia and Malaysia have enjoyed a long history of contact, with our defence, education and people-to-people links a mainstay of the bilateral relationship.

We are currently negotiating a bilateral Free Trade Agreement and work closely together in the Cairns Group on agricultural trade reform. During my visit I will reaffirm the Australian Government’s commitment to an FTA with Malaysia and underline the mutual benefits of an agreement between our countries.

Australia is Malaysia’s largest foreign education provider and our defence ties are among the closest in the immediate region. Malaysia was our eleventh-largest trading partner in 2005-06, with bilateral trade worth $9.3 billion.

During the visit, Prime Minister Abdullah and I will discuss ways for us to build on these strong links and further our shared interests in promoting regional peace and security.

In addition to my discussions with Prime Minister Abdullah, I will also address a lunch hosted by the Malaysia-Australia Business Council and will present Endeavour Award scholarships to a number of Malaysian scholars.

Prime Minister Abdullah visited Australia in April last year and my return visit will continue to foster and promote the close relationship between our two nations.

28 November 2006