Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad during a summit in Russia, and discussed the matter of extradition of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. The two leaders were in the city of Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said that the two countries would be in touch over the matter. The Malaysian prime minister had reportedly responded positively to Modi and it was decided that officials would discuss how Naik can be brought back to India, IANS cited sources as saying.

Last month, the Islamic preacher was banned from delivering public speeches in Malaysia after he had said that the Chinese should leave the country first as they were “old guests”. He had also said Hindus in Malaysia had “100 times more rights” than Muslims in India, and that Hindus were more loyal to Modi than the Malaysian prime minister.

Mohamad had then said it was “quite clear” that Naik wanted to engage in racial politics. The preacher had later apologised for his remarks, saying that it was not his “intention to upset any individual or community”.

The Indian government has been on the lookout for Naik ever since allegations surfaced that he had inspired one of the terrorists who carried out an attack at a Dhaka restaurant in July 2016. The same year, his Islamic Research Foundation was banned in India.

Bilateral meetings

Modi had arrived in Vladivostok on Wednesday for the first visit by an Indian prime minister to the Far East Region of Russia. He is the chief guest at the Eastern Economic Forum.

Apart from the Malaysian prime minister, Modi also met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Battulga Khaltmaa on Thursday. He discussed terrorism and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with Mohamad, Gokhale said. Modi explained the rationale behind the region’s reorganisation, which he said was done as an attempt to provide “effective governance and delivery of social justice”.

The Indian prime minister also said that his administration was focused on the terrorism coming out of Pakistan. The two leaders also talked about trade imbalance in favour of Malaysia, which Mohamad said he would address.

Modi and Abe discussed “deepening multi-faceted ties in economic, defence and security, start-up and 5G areas and exchanged views on regional situation”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. Modi and Abe had previously met at the G-20 summit held in Japan in June and the G-7 summit in France in August.

On Wednesday, Modi had held the 20th India-Russia Annual Summit with President Vladimir Putin. He was received with a guard of honour at Vladivostok International Airport. Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said both New Delhi and Moscow “believe not to interfere in the internal matters of any country”.

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