Malaysia seeks closer ties with Saudi Arabia
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim visited Saudi Arabia this week, seeking to restore ties with the wealthy Middle Eastern country after a financial scandal created bilateral tension.
The relationship between the two nations soured after former Prime Minister Najib Razak claimed to have received $100 million from a Saudi prince. Razak, who stole $700 million in government funds, ultimately went to prison in what became known as the 1MDB scandal. His successor, Mahathir Mohamad, railed against perceived Saudi involvement in the scandal.
Now Malaysia could be looking to get back into the good graces of its largest trading partner in the Middle East. Total trade between the two countries was valued at over $10 billion last year, Arab News reports. For its part, Saudi Arabia could be looking for inroads into Southeast Asia, Nikkei reports, with rapidly growing Muslim nations including Malaysia and Indonesia holding increasing regional influence. Malaysia is expected to host a meeting of ASEAN and Gulf Cooperation Council countries later this year.