Giant national flag flies high in capital
Abdul Hakim Yakof & Wani Roslan

HIS Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, yesterday held several bilateral meetings with foreign ministers. The meetings took place in the Brunei Darussalam Room, International Convention Centre (ICC), Berakas.

Following the bilateral meeting between Brunei Darussalam and Turkey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, in an interview announced that visas have been lifted between both Turkey and Brunei Darussalam, which will ease the entry of visitors from the two countries. He hoped that with the new agreement, both countries will experience enhanced economic relations.

“More importantly, I have good news for His Royal Highness, my dear colleague, that Turkey is opening an embassy and we have appointed an ambassador last week. There will be a permanent Turkish embassy in Brunei and that is very important news for our bilateral relation,” said Ahmet Davutoglu.

The bilateral meeting then continued with Dr Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh. During the interview with the Bulletin, she said that they discussed on possibility cooperation in the oil and gas sector, investment and recruitment on workforce, skilled and semi-skilled from the Bangladesh.

Rimbink Pato, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Papua New Guinea, in the bilateral meeting between Papua New Guinea and Brunei, discussed cooperation in LNG and gas. Papua New Guinea is looking to explore areas of possible cooperation with Brunei, including the possibility of signing a technical cooperation agreement in the future. In an interview, Rimbink Pato highlighted that Brunei has been a strong supporter of Papua New Guinea’s bid for Asean as Brunei is one of Papua’s long-term partners since both countries opened diplomatic mission in 1984.

“There is a lot to learn for Papua New Guinea from the Asean countries. The economies here are well structured, well developed and some of the issues and the challenges faced in Southeast Asia are common to us. Papua New Guinea is the only country in the Pacific Islands that is physically connected to Southeast Asia, therefore, it is important for us to get full membership in Asean,” said Rimbink Pato.

The Foreign Minister of Timor Leste, Jose Luis Guterres, during the bilateral meeting between Timor Leste and Brunei Darussalam, congratulated His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah on successfully gathering many important countries and on reaching a consensus on the South China Sea issue and the Korean Peninsula issue. In an interview, Jose Luis Guterres said that he was very happy that no Asean country member opposed the membership of Timor Leste to Asean and he hoped that Timor Leste will be the 11th member of Asean.

“For the Timor Leste application, we received information that the Asean working group will be meeting in Singapore and an assessment team will go to Timor Leste to study the real situation in Timor Leste so we are very happy with the results,” said Jose Luis Guterres.

The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird in the Brunei Darussalam-Canada bilateral meeting, discussed Canada-Asean cooperation and the effort to support connectivity. In an interview with the Bulletin, he highlighted that Brunei was a strong and early supporter when Canada experienced difficulty joining the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP offered the opportunity for Canada to have free trade between the two countries and others in the region.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, in an interview on the bilateral meeting with His Royal Highness stated that they engaged in a discussion regarding bilateral relations between Brunei and Norway. He also mentioned two Norwegian companies that have now established themselves in the Sultanate, one of them being Aker Solutions which is engaged working with Brunei Shell in the oil sector, and also Det Norske Veritas, a world leading classification company. He added that although the two countries have not made any new agreements, he hoped that the two countries will be able to work even closer in the near future. - Borneo Bulletin (2 July 2013)