Najib sets foot in the White House

Posted September 13, 2017

Arriving at the White House midday for a handshake and talks with Trump, Razak hopes to demonstrate to his critics back home that he's still welcome in Washington, despite the allegations against him.

The White House refused to say whether the issue will come up, and has tried to shift the focus onto relations with a key partner in South East Asia.

Upon arrival to the United States, the Malaysian leader and his large diplomatic entourage checked into the Trump family's swank DC hotel, which the president still owns, according to ThinkProgress.

Mr Trump said he and Mr Najib are discussing large trade pacts and a deal involving Boeing jets.

President Trump lavished praise Tuesday on scandal-scarred Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has set up camp at the Trump International Hotel, according to a report. But the fund has been at the center of investigations in the USA and several countries amid allegations of a global embezzlement and money-laundering scheme.

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said this week that the Justice Department investigations were not expected to arise when Trump meets Razak in the Oval Office.

Mr. Najib said Tuesday the airline deals would be worth $10 billion in five years, or more if the airline executes the option for additional planes.

"No prime minister of Malaysia in the past 60 years had to face such phalanx of global media hostility or avalanche of adverse press publicity both in the United States and the world", he said in a statement.

Malaysia is situated at an important shipping channel, the Straits of Malacca, making it an important ally to both China and the US. Razak denies any wrongdoing.

The White House had said it would not comment on the Justice Department investigation.

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Malaysian opposition lawmaker Nurul Izzah Anwar, daughter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, wrote in a commentary in The Washington Post yesterday: "What should be foremost on the agenda is the hatred and fear fuelled by Najib's own party's support of extremist groups that routinely harass and frighten the country's significant Christian, Buddhist and Hindu minorities".

The Malaysian leader was warmly welcomed by Trump on arrival for their one-on-one meeting at the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue in what is Najib's first visit to the official workplace and residence of the United States president.

The U.S. Justice Department sued to seize some $1.7 billion in assets it said were bought with misappropriated 1MDB funds.

A senior USA official acknowledged it was unusual to meet with Najib while 1MDB was under regulatory scrutiny.

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