Malaysia will enhance bilateral relations with Serbia, including by granting the visa exemption for Serbs visiting Malaysia, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said relations between Malaysia and Serbia would be improved not only involving government to government, but also between the people of both countries.

"We are only waiting for Serbia to sign the agreement (visa exemption)," he told Malaysian journalists after a meeting with First Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic here Wednesday (Aug 24).

Ahmad Zahid is here on a five-day visit to the United States of America for, among others, to chair a debate at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on weapons of mass destruction (WMD, where Malaysia is the chairman for the month of August.

The meeting between Ahmad Zahid and Dacic, which lasted for about 30 minutes, was also attended by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and Malaysia Permanent Representative to the United Nations Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim.

Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia would like to get more people from Serbia to visit Malaysia, adding that only about 700 Serbs visited the country in 2014 and 600 people last year.

"Efforts to get more tourist arrivals from Serbia will be carried out by the Tourism Ministry of Malaysia as there is huge potential to promote Malaysia to Serbia and other former Yugoslavia countries," he added.

He hoped the good relations with Serbia would be a gateway for Malaysian trade with former Yugoslavia countries, while Serbia could make Malaysia its gateway to Asean countries, with a total population of more than 500 million people.

In terms of diplomatic relations, Ahmad Zahid said Serbia was working to accredit its ambassador in Jakarta, Indonesia, for Malaysia, and the matter was expected to be finalized before end of the year.

Ahmad Zahid said the discussion also touched on education and scientific cooperation, as well as on the nomination of a representative from Serbia as United Nations (UN) Secretary-General to replace Ban Ki-moon, from South Korea, whose term expires this year.

Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia is of the opinion that a new method should be used in the election of the new UN secretary-general.

Ban Ki-moon, who took office on Jan 1, 2007, was re-elected without a contest for the second term on June 21, 2011.

On efforts to include Malaysia in the list of the United States government visa waiver programme, Ahmad Zahid said he would not discuss the matter during this visit, but expressed confidence that Malaysia's application would be approved before end of the year.

America has placed seven conditions, including on the visa rejection rate which should be below three per cent, and Malaysia has achieved 3.34 per cent, with efforts being made to reduce its further, he added.

On the detention of two Malaysians at the US army base in Cuba Guantanamo Bay, Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said Malaysia had sent three officers, including two from the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), to meet them and to offer the US to de-radicalise them.

Source: ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA)