Dr Mahathir To Meet Several Foreign Leaders On Sidelines Of NAM Summit

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is due to arrive here Thursday evening for the 18th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, is scheduled to have at least five bilateral meetings with foreign leaders.

Dr Mahathir is expected to arrive at the Azerbaijan capital's Heydar Aliyev International Airport at 6 pm (10 pm Malaysian time).

A Malaysian official said Dr Mahathir, who will be accompanied by his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, is also scheduled to meet Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

He said the Malaysian side has received many requests from their counterparts to arrange bilateral meetings with the 94-year-old Dr Mahathir, currently the oldest sitting state leader.

Besides the meeting with President Ilham, there are requests for the Prime Minister to meet leaders of Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh and North Korea on the sidelines of the summit, he said.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed; Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and North Korea's number two leader and president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Choe Ryong-hae, are expected to attend the two-day summit.

On Friday morning, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to be interviewed by UK-based Islam Channel before joining leaders from more than 20 countries at the opening of the 18th NAM Summit at the Baku Congress Centre.

Dr Mahathir, who last attended the NAM Summit when Malaysia hosted it in 2003, will participate in the general debate on the summit theme of Upholding the Bandung Principles to Ensure Concerted and Adequate Response to the Challenges of the Contemporary World.

On his third day here, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to visit Greentech Farm, a modern greenhouse complex that utilises state-of-the-art technology in the production of organic vegetables.

He will also visit the office of Petronas which has to date invested more than US$4 billion (RM16.74 billion) in Azerbaijan.

According to reports, Petronas has a 15.5 per cent stake in the Shah Deniz project and in the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline, and a 12.4 per cent stake in the Azerbaijan Gas Supply Company.

Dr Mahathir will also meet the Malaysian diaspora in Azerbaijan and hold a press conference for the Malaysian media before leaving for Ashgabat for a two-day visit to Turkmenistan.