February 23, 2002
10 Zulhijjah 1422
Utusan Malaysia
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Belgian crown prince Philippe on four-day visit to M'sia

KUALA LUMPUR Feb 22 - Belgian Crown Prince Philippe begins a four-day official visit to Malaysia beginning Sunday aimed at enhancing bilateral trade and explore economic market between Belgium and Malaysia.

The prince, who is also Belgian Foreign Trade Association honorary chairman, will be accompanied by his wife Princess Mathilde.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck will lead a 130-member delegation comprising 20 officials, 80 businessmen and 25 journalists.

"The Belgian Government views Malaysia as a promising market for its trade and investment since there has been a steady increase in bilateral trade over the last decade," Wisma Putra said in a statement today.

It said this mission could be viewed as an effort by the Belgian government to seek new markets in the Asian region as currently 76 percent of their trade was with the European Union (EU).

During the visit, Prince Philippe and Neyts-Uyttebroeck will have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail and the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah.

They are also scheduled to meet Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz.

Prince Philippe will also meet Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Wisma Putra said there has been great interest within EU countries about Muslim nations following the Sept 12 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

"This explains why a sizeable Belgium media delegation is accompanying the Crown Prince to Malaysia. The visit will also provide an opportunity to showcase Malaysia's multi-lingual, multi-cultural and tolerant society," it added.


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