Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (L) and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong (Source: malaymail.com)

Hanoi (VNA) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has underscored the need for good economic linkages and mutual respect in the Malaysia – Singapore relations, especially in the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The leader is on a two-day visit to Singapore from November 12 as part of his journey to Southeast Asian nations after he acceded to the office in May.

The visit offers a chance for both sides to discuss a series of bilateral and international issues of common concern, as well as measures to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries for mutual benefits.

Speaking at a banquet hosted by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mahathir said there will be some differences and competition between the two nations, but his country and Singapore have become interdependent as key trade partners and they will continue their cooperation in the time to come.

The healthy competition always helps the two countries to make jointly effort to promote their economic growth, he added.

He stressed that the two neighbours both have their own role to play in ASEAN, and through cooperation they can help the regional group operate effectively.

The Malaysia-Singapore ties became somewhat thorny after Mahathir returned to power in the May general election this year. Leaders of both governments sparred publicly through the media over issues, old and new, ranging from the water price, construction and transport projects.

However, the bilateral relationship is warmer than the first Mahathir administration and when the late Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister of Singapore.

Malaysia and Singapore have extensive cooperation in many fields, especially trade and investment. Singapore is Malaysia's second largest trade partner after China. Trade between the two countries reached 220.88 billion ringgit (53.18 billion USD) in 2017, equivalent to 12.9 percent of Malaysia's total global trade.

During his visit, Malaysian PM Mahathir paid a courtesy visit to Singaporean President Halimah Yacob before the talks with Lee.

Mahathir also attended the ASEAN 2018 Summit hosted by Singapore. Before Singapore, Mahathir visited Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand.-VNA