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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, April 1. /TASS/. Brunei values development of ties with Russia in spheres of defense, energy and trade, Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Hassanal Bolkiah said on Saturday in an exclusive interview with TASS.
Hassanal Bolkiah will celebrate the 50th anniversary from the time of being proclaimed as the Sultan of Brunei. The interview with TASS is a unique one because it has become the first one in fifty years of his personal interaction with global mass media representatives.
"I am pleased that Brunei Darussalam and Russia enjoy warm and friendly ties. We have had good cooperation and exchanges in the last twenty five years," the sultan said. "There have also been a lot of positive developments, such as the convening of consultation and high-level visits and increasing collaboration in defense and trade. Russia is an important partner to Brunei and we value the continuous efforts to strengthen and expand our ties in various spheres, such as energy, education and cultural exchanges. I am also happy that Brunei Darussalam and Russia have worked together in regional and international cooperation."
"I very much value the personal relationship that I have developed with President Putin over the years," he said. "I had the pleasure of hosting him in Brunei Darussalam during the APEC leaders meeting in the year 2000. I have also visited President Putin in Russia on a number of occasions. My most recent visit was in 2016, when I attended ASEAN-Russia commemorative summit in the beautiful city of Sochi. As always, President Putin was very gracious in welcoming me and my delegation. I have worked properly with President Putin in identifying ways for our countries to increase mutually beneficial cooperation such as in defense, information technology and culture. I see all of these as positive steps in enhancing our bilateral relations."
The sultan said "I am grateful to Allah that over the past fifty years peace and stability has prevailed in Brunei. This has laid the foundation for our future and economic development. The achievements that I have been most proud of are the ones that have contributed to the improvement of the lives of Bruneian citizens."
"This includes safeguarding Brunei sovereignty and security for its economic development, expanding its domestic welfare projects and strengthening its foreign relations," he said. "We have also ensured that education is accessible to all Bruneian citizens to help them prepared for employment and success in a competitive and knowledge-based global economy. I am also pleased that education has led to more opportunities for women to work in the public and private sectors."
"It has always been responsibility of my government to ensure that Bruneian people are living well," he said. "The government of Brunei collects no income taxes and every Bruneian has access to free education and healthcare as well as all to old age pensions and decent housing. I am very grateful that Brunei Darussalam has been blessed with substantial energy resources and commodities, which allow us to be able to carry this out. At the same time, we have also emphasized on good governance and transparency to ensure equitable development and progress in the country."
"My best wishes to the people of Russia who have been good partners and supporters of Brunei Darussalam on Brunei-Darussalam’s development. I would also like to acknowledge our close personal relations with President Putin who has contributed towards the strengthening of the ties between our two countries," he concluded. "There is a lot of potential for bilateral relationship to be further enhanced. We very much value the Russian people’s friendship and we welcome you to visit Brunei."