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PUTRAJAYA: Defence ties between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are to be stepped up after the two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in military expertise and intelligence.

A high-level committee will be set up to see to this, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic).

He said this was a result of his visit to Saudi Arabia on the invitation of the kingdom’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, with whom he had constructive discussions.

“We exchanged views on the prospects and ways to further develop existing bilateral defence relations, and also to intensify cooperation in trade, economic, investment, military and security areas,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Hishammuddin said a working group will be set up between Saudi Arabia’s General Authorities of Military Industries, Mindef’s Defence Industry division and the Armed Forces Fund Board on knowledge-sharing and potential defence industry partnerships.

“On counter-terrorism, we agreed to upgrade our cooperation in combating and curbing terror threats and extremism,” he added.

Also discussed were cooperation between Saudi Aramco and Petronas on oil and gas, and economic and financial cooperation through opportunities with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund, and the Saudi Stock Exchange.

“We also touched on food security, which covers cooperation on halal industries and palm oil exports to Saudi Arabia from Malaysia,” said Hishammuddin.

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