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Najib a summit winner for meeting with Obama: Washington Post

WASHINGTON, April 15 (Bernama) -- Disarmament and terrorism aside, the Nuclear Security Summit here did produce some winners and one of them was Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for getting to meet President Obama privately, wrote a columnist for the influential newspaper, The Washington Post.

A day after the summit closed, Al Kamen devoted part of his "In The Loop" column on Wednesday on the select group of leaders from among the 36 heads of state of the 46 countries invited by Obama for the summit who also had bilateral meetings with the president.

"The winners at this week's nuclear summit were easily identified: They were the ones who got bilats with President Obama--not a bodybuilding term, it stands for bilateral, or one-on-one, chat--showing their prestige and importance," he said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao who had 90 minutes with Obama headed the list, Kamen said and went on to name a few more--King Abdullah of Jordan, Najib, President Viktor Yanukovich of Ukraine, President Serzh Sargsian of Armenia, Nigerian acting president Goodluck Jonathan and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

The columnist said Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama reportedly requested but did not get a meeting with Obama.

Obama had about a dozen bilateral meetings, starting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and rounding off with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the only leader from the European Union to do so.

Najib's first ever bilateral consultations with Obama lasted 40 minutes inside the huge Walter E.Washington Convention Center on Monday before the summit began the same afternoon.

On Wednesday, the prime minister was asked of his meeting with Obama after presenting his views on the key pillars of cooperation in Malaysia-U.S relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

"The very fact that you can get a piece of the President's time by itself during a summit of 47 leaders means something, it means you are important enough and that Malaysia is important enough," he said.

Najib was the only leader to have the bilateral from among the six Southeast Asian countries attending the summit. The others were Indonesian Vice-President Boediono, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thai Deputy Premier Trairong Suwankiri and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Najib said he looked forward to the re-engagement of Malaysia by the Obama administration and he expected a productive and exciting phase of relations ahead.

In his speech, the prime minister said the cooperation between the US and Southeast Asian countries had helped the region fight terrorism, including the Jemaah Islamiah militant network linked to Al Qaeda.

"Indeed, cooperation between Malaysia and the United States in this regard has never been stronger. It is my hope that this cooperation will be sustained long into the future," he said.

Malaysia and the US could also explore ways to expand maritime cooperation to ensure secure passage through major sea lanes and fight piracy, said Najib.

There was also significant potential for collaboration between Malaysia and the US in responding to natural disasters.

"The Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and Cyclone Nargis in 2008 showed that assistance from outside the region would be critical in the event of exceptionally severe disasters. The people of Southeast Asia appreciate America's assistance in our moments of need," said Najib. (By THAM CHOY LIN/Bernama)

MySinchew 2010.04.15


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