Trump, Najib dodge 1MDB

Donald Trump has lauded embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during talks in Washington for his country’s financial investment in US companies and his action against Isis-linked militants.

He did not mention the notorious 1MDB corruption scandal.

The visit is important for Najib, who will probably face re-election next year and wants to signal he is still welcome at the White House despite a US criminal investigation.

The Malaysian authorities said they found no criminal wrongdoing at the fund, which was founded by Najib. The US Department of Justice is conducting a large-scale investigation into the state-run investment fund, amid charges of embezzlement and money-laundering.

The US federal government is working to seize US$1.7 billion it says was taken from the fund to buy American assets.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed she was “not aware” of the allegations being mentioned by either man.

Trump and Najib focused on economic development and action against Islamist groups during a public appearance in the White House.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence attended the meeting.  Malaysia recently purchased aircraft from Chicago-based Boeing in a deal which Trump said was worth US$10-20 billion.

Najib said Malaysia Airlines would buy 25 Boeing 737 planes and eight 787 Dreamliners, and would probably add another 25 737s soon.

Trump said Malaysia was a “massive investor in the United States in terms of stocks and bonds” as Najib said Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund, a major pension fund, wanted to spend US$3-4 billion on US infrastructure development.

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

Trump praised Najib for his work to tackle extremism and for cutting off economic ties with North Korea.

“He’s been very, very strong on terrorism in Malaysia, and a great supporter from that standpoint,” the businessman turned politician said. “He does not do business with North Korea any longer, and we find that to be very important.”

Najib stressed the US role in bolstering Asean against the expansion of Islamist extremism.

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

 

All smiles. Donald Trump and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House. Picture credit: YouTube