GERMAN Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (R) shakes hands with German students upon his arrival to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, May 11. - APpix.
SEPANG May 11 - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is happy to be making his official visit to Malaysia before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamed steps down as Prime Minister.
"Just now he mentioned to me that he is very glad that he got this opportunity to come to Malaysia because he knows this is Dr Mahathir's final year (as prime minister)," Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar told reporters.
He earlier received the German Chancellor at the KL International Airport and then accompanied the Chancellor to his hotel in the city. The German Chancellor will be accorded an official welcome at the Federal Administrative Capital of Putrajaya tomorrow.
Syed Hamid said Schroeder was happy with Dr Mahathir's recent visit to Germany and was confident that this return visit would further enhance relations between Malaysia and Germany.
He said Schroeder was happy with all the programmes that had been organised as it would give him and his delegation opportunities to have discussions with Malaysian ministers, as well as, see German funded projects in this country.
EARLIER, the German Chancellor arrived here Sunday to begin a three-day visit, the first leg of his four-nation Southeast Asian tour.
Schroeder, who is leading a 17-member delegation, is the first German Chancellor to visit Malaysia.
He was greeted on arrival at the Bunga Raya VVIP Complex of the KL International Airport by Syed Hamid. Also present were 50 students of the Kuala Lumpur German School.
The six-day tour will also take him to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Schroeder will attend an official welcoming ceremony at Dataran Perdana in Putrajaya before meeting Dr Mahathir, followed by a delegation meeting.
The Chancellor's entourage comprises German Economics and Labour Minister Wolfgang Clement and German Industry Committee for Asia-Pacific Chairman Heinrich von Pierer.
Schroeder will also receive a courtesy call from Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Shangri-la Hotel.
He will also open the Siemens Regional Hub at the Petronas Twin Towers.
In the afternoon, Schroeder will have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail at Istana Negara.
Dr Mahathir and his wife Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali will host a banquet in honour of Schroeder at the Seri Perdana Complex in Putrajaya on Monday night.