Trump meet­ing with Malaysia’s Na­jib un­der scru­tiny

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

PRES­I­DENT Don­ald Trump praised Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak for his coun­try’s financial in­vest­ments in U.S. com­pa­nies dur­ing a meet­ing Tues­day at the White House and thanked him for help­ing to fight Is­lamic State mil­i­tants.

Left un­said by ei­ther leader: anything about the mas­sive corruption scan­dal swirling around Na­jib’s multi­bil­lion-dol­lar state fund.

Malaysia’s gov­ern­ment has said it found no crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing at the fund, called 1MDB and founded by Na­jib. But it has been at the cen­tre of in­ves­ti­ga­tions in the U.S. and sev­eral coun­tries amid al­le­ga­tions of a global em­bez­zle­ment and mon­ey­laun­der­ing scheme.

The U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment says peo­ple close to Na­jib stole bil­lions of dol­lars, and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is work­ing to seize US$1.7 bil­lion (K2.3 tril­lion) it says was taken from the fund to buy as­sets in the U.S.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said later Tues­day that she was “not aware” of the corruption ac­cu­sa­tion com­ing up dur­ing Trump’s con­ver­sa­tions with Na­jib.

At their meet­ing, Trump and Na­jib in­stead fo­cused on ar­eas of agree­ment, such as eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and coun­tert­er­ror­ism mea­sures when they spoke dur­ing a pub­lic ap­pear­ance in the Cab­i­net room of the White House.

“Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, it’s a great hon­our to have you in the United States and in the White House,” Trump said.

Flanked by Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, the pres­i­dent crossed his arms and lis­tened raptly as Na­jib de­scribed Malaysia’s pur­chase of bil­lions of dol­lars’ worth of aircraft from Chicago-based Boe­ing. Trump said the deal is worth $10 bil­lion to $20 bil­lion.

Trump also pointed out that Malaysia is a “mas­sive in­vestor in the United States in terms of stocks and bonds.”

“They have to be very happy be­cause we are hit­ting new highs on al­most a weekly ba­sis,” Trump said. “We’re very proud of our stock mar­ket, what’s hap­pened since I be­came pres­i­dent.”

On fight­ing ISIS, Na­jib said his coun­try would do its part to “keep our part of the world safe.” And he en­cour­aged Trump to con­tinue build­ing part­ner­ships in the re­gion.

“The key is to sup­port mod­er­ate and pro­gres­sive Mus­lim regimes and gov­ern­ments around the world be­cause that is the true face of Is­lam,” Na­jib said.

Na­jib has re­sisted calls to re­sign, has clamped down on crit­ics and con­tin­ues to en­joy the un­wa­ver­ing sup­port of most rul­ing-party mem­bers, but his real test will come in gen­eral elec­tions due by mid-2018.

– As­so­ci­ated Press

Photo: AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump greets Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak at the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day.

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