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Malaysian monarch visits
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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has welcomed the Malaysian head of state, King Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, and his wife, Agong Haminah at a state ceremony at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday.

“Your visit to Indonesia today is a repeat of your visit to this country dozens of years ago,” Yudhoyono said. “During this visit, I hope that your majesty and your delegation can help improve our friendly relations, cooperation and partnership between the two countries.”

Yudhoyono met the king, who holds the official title of Yang di-Pertuan Agong as Malaysia’s head of state, behind closed doors.

Accompanying Yudhoyono were several officials, including State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri and Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam. The king was accompanied by Malaysian Agriculture Minister Noh Hj Omar.

According to Marty, Yudhoyono and the king discussed general issues such as education and culture during the meeting, avoiding more contentious issues surrounding the working conditions and legal status of Indonesian citizens working in Malaysia.

Later in the evening, Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono hosted a state banquet for the visiting royals.

The king’s trip to Indonesia has been scheduled from Dec. 3 to 8 and includes stops in Jakarta and Bali. The visit was scheduled following an invitation from the Indonesian government, presidential foreign affairs spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said in a press release made available on Monday.

The king and his entourage departed from Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday and arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta in the afternoon, where they were welcomed by Marty and Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Syed Munshe Afdzaruddin Syed Hassan.

“The visit of the Malaysian king and queen has enhanced relations between the two countries at the head-of-state level. It is hoped that this will strengthen Indonesian-Malaysian cooperation in many sectors,” Faizasyah said.

This is the king’s first visit to Indonesia since his installation as Malaysia’s head of state on Dec. 13, 2011, according to Faizasyah.

Faizasyah said that Malaysian investment in Indonesia had boomed in the last few years, underscoring some sectors such as banking, hotels, restaurants, health, agriculture, mining, manufacture and telecommunication.

Indonesia and Malaysia’s trade volume reached US$21.4 billion in 2011, with a $590.98 million surplus booked by Indonesia, up 18.82 percent over $18.01 billion in 2010.

On Dec. 18, Yudhoyono is expected to be in Putrajaya, Malaysia for an annual consultation with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Abdul Razak before he departs for New Delhi, India, to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit.

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