Kuala Lumpur, Jan.8 : Discussions on a free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and India are in the final stage with only one more outstanding issue to resolve.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said in Putrajaya that once the issue, which centred on the export of palm oil from the region to India, had been resolved, the FTA would be signed.
"A feasibility study on a separate FTA between India and Malaysia has also been completed and discussions on the matter have started between our International Trade and Industry Ministry and India's Ministry of Commerce.
"Both our Prime Ministers had in a previous meeting stated that they wanted discussions on the agreement to be concluded as soon as possible," he told reporters after meeting India's Defence Minister A.K. Antony at his office here yesterday.
The Star Online quoted Syed Hamid as saying Antony had also expressed the Indian government's wish to play a greater role in its relationship with Asean.
"They hope to see Malaysia's support on that matter," he said, adding that the Indian government also hoped to see a "broadening" of the existing relationship, particularly in defence and trade matters.
Asked if Antony had raised the issue of alleged discrimination against Indians and Hindus in the country, Syed Hamid said he had not.
"In fact, he said India hopes to learn from the Malaysian experience and development model. The matter raised by Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) is a domestic matter," he said.