PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia hopes to be Timor-Leste's major partner in the development of the republic and is ready to send Petronas to that country to explore for oil and gas.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Petronas would look at the possibility of taking part in the development of Timor-Leste's oil and gas industry.
"Timor-Leste will invite new bids for oil and gas exploration and development in the country by this year or early next year.
"Petronas will have a look at the possibility (of participating)," he said at a joint press conference with his Timor-Leste counterpart Xanana Gusmao here yesterday.
The two leaders earlier held talks at Najib's office at the Perdana Putra building and witnessed the signing of memorandums of understanding on cooperative development and cooperation between Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the National University of Timor-Leste.
Najib said Malaysia Airport Hold-ings Bhd would consider participating in the redevelopment of Timor-Leste's Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport.
"There is vast economic potential in Timor-Leste which Malaysia has been invited to explore, such as infrastructure, healthcare, mining, tourism and agriculture.
"Prime Minister Gusmao is keen to have the Malaysian private sector participating in the development of Timor-Leste," he said.
Najib expressed Malaysia's support for the inclusion of Timor-Leste in ASEAN, but said that a consensus of all members was needed for it to join the regional grouping.
He also thanked Timor-Leste for supporting Malaysia's bid for a seat in the United Nations Security Council.
Malaysia is so far the only country from the Asia-Pacific region vying for the seat.
Gusmao meanwhile congratulated Najib over Malaysia's role as the mediator for the peace process in the southern Philippines, which culminated in the recent signing of the historical Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Manila.
"The signing (of the agreement) has made a significant contribution to regional security and peace," he said.
Gusmao, who is on a three-day visit to the country, also thanked Malaysia for supporting its proposed entry into ASEAN.