Trump to meet Malaysian leader Najib at White House as US seeks ‘stolen’ 1MDB assets in global money laundering probe

US President Donald Trump plans to meet Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is embroiled in a corruption scandal at home, on September 12 at the White House, officials from both countries confirmed on Thursday.

The US Justice Department has been conducting a criminal inquiry into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a fund founded by Najib, which is facing money-laundering investigations in at least six countries, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore.

In civil lawsuits, the Justice Department has sought to seize a total of about US$1.7 billion in assets it says were bought with misappropriated 1MDB funds. The Malaysian leader has denied any wrongdoing.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Najib will undertake the visit following an invitation from Trump.

“The two leaders are expected to discuss areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, including national security, the global fight against terrorism and extremism, and trade and investment that will benefit our nations and our peoples,” the foreign ministry said in the statement.

The United States sees Najib as a key partner in its fight against radical Islamists.

But that image has been damaged recently after Najib was linked to the 1MDB scandal, and his party overtly supported right-wing groups for political gains ahead of the polls that must be held by mid-2018.

Trump looks forward to “discussing ways to strengthen and broaden our bilateral relationship and expand regional cooperation with one of America’s closest partners in Southeast Asia,” said a White House statement announcing Najib’s visit.

The men share a close bond. Najib is reportedly Trump’s “favourite prime minister” and are “golfing buddies”.

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