Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mahathir denies paying lobbyist to to meet Bush

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad denied that the Malaysian government had paid US$1.2 million to American lobbyist Jack Abramoff to arrange his meeting with George Bush in May 2002.

Dr Mahathir said the meeting with Bush in the White House was arranged by Heritage Foundation, a US think tank, to discuss issues related to Washington's foreign policies, Bernama news agency reported Monday.

He said he was informed that some people paid a sum of money to lobbyists in America but he did not know who they were and it was not the Malaysian government.

Abramoff is being investigated by the American authorities on charages of misconduct for allegedly taking a payment even though the White House had stated the meeting was fixed through the correct channel. The Western media had in the past accused Malaysia of paying lobbyists to make the meeting happen.

Dr Mahathir said he agreed to have the meeeting with Bush on the urging of the Heritage Foundation and he had believed it would benefit Malaysia to discuss American foreign policy with the US leader.

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