World

Meeting 'independent' of 1MDB probe

White House says Trump, Najib will talk about North Korea, trade and terrorism

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's meeting with United States President Donald Trump yesterday is "independent" of the Justice Department's (DOJ) probe into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this on Monday.

"Look, we are not going to comment on an ongoing investigation being led by the DOJ, and that investigation is apolitical and certainly independent of anything taking place tomorrow," she said when asked whether Mr Trump would address or avoid the issue.

Mr Najib founded the fund, which is facing money laundering probes in at least six countries including the US, Switzerland and Singapore, reported Reuters. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Malaysia's Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali has previously concluded that the suit was politically motivated.

Earlier, Ms Sanders said Mr Trump was looking forward to discussing wide-ranging security issues with Mr Najib, reported the New Straits Times.

60 YEARS

She said the US and Malaysia "have had a 60-year relationship and partnership built on common economic and security interests and that continues".

She said Mr Trump plans to talk with Mr Najib about North Korea's nuclear provocations and the ways the US and Malaysia could do more to halt the expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in South-east Asia, reported Reuters.

The South China Sea will also be part of the talks, as will trade and investment, Ms Sanders said.

"The President looks forward to discussing a wide range of regional security issues with the Prime Minister and talking about ways that they can strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation… certainly the halt of ISIS, addressing North Korea and its continued actions and making sure that we promote maritime security in the South China Sea, these are certainly some of the priorities," she said.

A civil suit filed by the DOJ is seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) in assets linked to an "international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated" from 1MDB.

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