Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum 2019 in Vladivostok, Russia. - EPA

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: Russia has shown interest in setting up an aerospace university in Malaysia.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia was an education hub in Southeast Asia and welcomed Russia to invest in the country’s education sector.

“We are very interested in aerospace and engineering. I am confident that the proposal by Russia to set up an aerospace university would not only boost investment but also promote transfer of technology in the sector.

“I believe that we are also able to gain knowledge and experience from Russia in the sector,” he said at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) Russia 2019, here, yesterday.

The session was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mongolian President Khalttmaagiin Battulga.

Malaysia currently has 150,000 foreign students.

Dr Mahathir said the Vladivostok region, which he was visiting for the first time, had the potential to attract Malaysian investments, especially in the tourism sector.

EEF was conceived by Putin in 2015 to develop the far east of Russia.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia’s location made it suitable for Russian investors to explore opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Earlier, the prime minister attended separate meetings with Putin and Modi on the sidelines of EEF.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gives a speech as he takes part in a plenary session of Eastern Economic Forum at far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok. - AFP

During his meeting with Putin, both leaders agreed to explore investment opportunities in both countries.

Putin also agreed to share Russia’s experience and expertise in the fields of engineering, naval and aerospace technology.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was interested in gaining access to Russian technology, including space technology.

Putin in his reply referred to Malaysia as its leading partner in Asia.

In his meeting with Modi, it was learnt that both leaders had touched on various bilateral issues, including on controversial Muslim preacher and scholar Dr Zakir Naik, although no details were made available to the media.

The preacher from India, who is a permanent resident in Malaysia, is wanted by the Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering.

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah in June said Malaysia would not extradite Zakir to his home country despite receiving an extradition application from India to face money-laundering charges.

The 53-year-old preacher maintained his innocence on terrorism charges made against him in India.