HAVANA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi arrived here today in conjunction with the celebration to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and Cuba.
Malaysian ambassador Datuk Kamal Yan Yahaya said Abdullah was making an official visit to Cuba at the invitation of President Fidel Castro.
This is also Abdullah’s first official visit to a country in this region. The Prime Minister had earlier attended the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders’ meeting in Santiago, Chile.
Abdullah arrived from Ecuador, where he had spent two days holidaying at the Galapagos.
Kamal said ties between the two countries were excellent and Castro had visited Malaysia three years ago to attend the Non-Aligned Movement meeting.
Abdullah is scheduled to receive the Jose Marti award from Castro. This is the highest award given to foreign head of state or government.
During Abdullah’s three-day visit here, two memorandums of understanding are expected to be signed between two Malaysian companies and two Cuban institutes involved in biotechnology, and cancer treatment and prevention.
Kamal said Cuba was one of the foremost countries in medicine and biotechnology.
Among those accompanying Abdullah were Higher Education Minister Datuk Shafie Salleh, Health Minister Datuk Chua Soi Lek and Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin.
Kamal said trade between Cuba and Malaysia was minimal at only RM5mil and he hoped that Abdullah’s visit would spur more business between the two countries.