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Friday October 14, 2005

Malaysia's support sought to help develop Iraq

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Iraq's Industry Minister Osama al-Najafi said Al-Najafi, who was on a three-day visit to Malaysia to discuss bilateral cooperation, said Friday Iraq was "facing a critical situation (and) needs support from friendly countries and the Islamic community so as to maintain its ... sovereignty and unity of its land.'' 

Malaysia, which currently chairs the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, plans to increase investment in Iraq in areas such as banking and finance, agriculture and health, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said after a meeting with Al-Najafi. 

Iraq wants Malaysia to be involved in its reconstruction and recognizes its ability to do so, Syed Hamid said, adding that officials from both sides will meet in Iraq in three months to hammer out specific measures. 

Syed Hamid downplayed the possibility that some Malaysian businesses might hesitate to invest in Iraq because of the persistent violence and instability there. 

"The element of risk is always there,'' he said. 

"You must make your bid and not wait for everything to be OK, then you want to come in. By that time, it is too late.'' 

Iraqi Industry and Minerals Minister Abdul Aziz Al-Najafi, left, shakes hand with Malaysia's Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar - APpic
Malaysia's trade with Iraq, mainly comprising car exports, totaled US$215.8 million (euro179.3 million) in 2004, up sharply from US$12.5 million (euro10.4 million) the previous year. - AP 

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