Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Jan 16, 2019. (YAM G-JUN / AP)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia has rejected a US plan to host an Asia-Pacific trade summit in January, after Chile scrapped the December meeting over violent anti-government protests.
I have informed the American officials while they were in Bangkok that we do not think this is a good idea
Saifuddin Abdullah, Malaysia's Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah didn't give any reason for the rejection Thursday but Malaysia is next year's host for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Chile's sudden withdrawal upset a US plan to sign a modest trade agreement with China on the sidelines of the Nov 16-17 meeting.
Saifuddin said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had sought his views on Malaysia's position to a possible APEC meeting in the US in January during a recent regional summit in Bangkok.
"I have informed the American officials while they were in Bangkok that we do not think this is a good idea," he said.
US President Donald Trump had also sent an invitation through his envoy to Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad during the Bangkok meeting but Saifuddin said he wasn't privy to it.
"If it's about APEC, the answer is no," he added, without elaborating.
Apart from APEC, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera also called off a UN global climate summit in December to respond to widespread protests over economic inequality that have left more than a dozen people dead, hundreds injured and businesses and infrastructure damaged.
The UN climate meeting was quickly rescheduled for Madrid on Dec 2-13.
White House officials have previously indicated they are scouring for other locations as Trump still aims to sign the trade deal with President Xi Jinping. Under the tentative deal, the US had agreed to suspend plans to raise tariffs on US$250 billion in Chinese imports, and Beijing had agreed to step up purchases of US farm products.
HONG KONG NEWS