Trump called me friend, as sign of respect: Najib

KUALA LUMPUR • US President Donald Trump called visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak his "friend" and personally saw him off, according to the Malaysian leader.

Recalling the end of his meeting with Mr Trump at the White House Cabinet Room last Tuesday, Datuk Seri Najib said one of Mr Trump's aides had wanted to arrange a handshake photo-op outside the President's office.

"Trump said, 'No, I want to send him to the car'," Mr Najib was quoted by the Malaysiakini news site last Friday as saying. "The officer then said, 'But sir, the car is right down at the basement'. What did Trump say? He said, 'never mind, he is my friend'," Mr Najib told some 1,000 supporters at the Bunga Raya Complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport last Friday night.

This was a sign of respect, even though his critics mocked his US visit, Mr Najib said. He met Mr Trump on Tuesday, at the invitation of the White House. A joint press statement was issued after the leaders' meeting and journalists were not allowed to ask questions, according to Malaysiakini. It is believed that this arrangement was made to prevent uncomfortable questions being posed to Mr Najib about the US Justice Department's probe into US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) allegedly misappropriated from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Meanwhile, Reuters reported yesterday that the company that made The Wolf Of Wall Street, and was co-founded by Mr Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, has settled a civil lawsuit brought by the US government to seize assets allegedly bought with money stolen from 1MDB. Red Granite Pictures announced the settlement in a filing to the federal Los Angeles court last Friday, without revealing any sum.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 17, 2017, with the headline 'Trump called me friend, as sign of respect: Najib'. Print Edition | Subscribe