Malaysia set to lift trade ban with UK

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The Independent Online
MALAYSIA is on the point of lifting its public sector trade ban with Britain following talks in Kuala Lumpur yesterday between Richard Needham, the trade minister, and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister.

Both had in front of them a confidential letter sent last week from John Major to Dr Mahathir. The letter is understood to have emphasised Britain's willingness to contribute towards Malaysia's future development and the importance attached to trade between the countries.

Mr Major expressed the hope that it would not be too long before the three-month- old ban - imposed after the Sunday Times accused Dr Mahathir of corruption - is lifted.

Mr Needham met Dr Mahathir for 20 minutes before holding further discussions with Anwar Ibrahim, the deputy prime minister. 'My meeting with Mahathir was positive,' Mr Needham said. 'I left some ideas with the prime minister for the Malaysian government (to consider) about our long-term relationship.'

Rafidah Aziz, Malaysia's international trade minister, said: 'The atmosphere is more conducive for us to start thinking about making decisions to reverse our earlier decision. I am confident it will end. But as to the timing, I can't say when.'