Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Thursday he hoped to boost military links with Russia, but he stopped short of saying Kuala Lumpur would sign a deal with Russian aircraft manufacturers.
Mahathir, on a four-day visit to Moscow, is due to visit the Sukhoi aircraft factory Friday for a showing of the new Su-30MK fighter plane.
"We are aware of Russian advances in many areas, including aviation, and we would like to cooperate with you in this field," Mahathir said at Kremlin talks with President Vladimir Putin. "[We] discussed the possibility of purchasing some military equipment from Russia," he said.
The Malaysian air force, which has a mixture of Russian MiG-29s and U.S.-made F-18 Hornets, is also being courted by U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
Direct trade with Russia's Far Eastern regions, as well as sales of palm oil and Malaysian technology to Russia, also figured in the talks.
"Malaysia, which today accounts for 24 percent ... of electronics production in the world, is a good partner for Russia," Putin said.
Mahathir said current annual trade turnover between the countries of $300 million was too low given their potential.
"We would like to sell more to Russia, including palm oil," he said.
Putin said the two discussed cooperation in using mobile missile launchers, since Malaysia's location near the equator makes it convenient for space launches. (Reuters, AP)