The King and Queen accompanying Obama at the state banquet in Istana Negara
KUALA LUMPUR: As the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 continues in the southern Indian Ocean, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Tuanku Abdul has expressed Malaysia's gratitude for the United States' unwavering support and cooperation in the search operation.
Addressing a state banquet in honour of visiting US President Barack Obama on Saturday, Tuanku Abdul Halim noted that the disappearance of MH370 involved many nationalities, including Malaysians and Americans.
The King, who was accompanied by the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tuanku Hajah Haminah, said the assistance rendered by the US encapsulated the close bond enjoyed by the two countries.
"Your involvement since the beginning of the search and rescue mission, and ongoing recovery operation, indeed exemplifies the strong commitment established between our two countries," he said.
Obama, the first sitting American president in nearly 50 years to visit Malaysia, is on a three-day state visit, the third leg of a four-nation tour of Asia which already saw him visit Japan and South Korea. His final stop is the Philippines.
Flight MH370 with 239 people on board left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. Among the passengers were three Americans.
A multinational search for the Malaysian Boeing 777-200 plane in waters off Perth, Australia, involves the use of a US Navy's sonar-equipped autononomous underwater vehicle called Bluefin-21.
In his royal address, Tuanku Abdul Halim said he was pleased to see the ties between Malaysia and the US gaining so much traction, as over the years, their common interests and shared values had flourished.
"We're delighted that both our countries will be discussing ways to strengthen cooperation in wide-ranging areas of economy, security and defence, education, energy, science and technology, and people-to-people relations," he said.
Obama and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was present at the banquet, are scheduled to hold talks and attend a working luncheon in Putrajaya on Sunday.
Also present at the banquet was Najib's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
Noting that economic ties between the two nations had been very strong, Tuanku Abdul Halim said the US' continuous support to Malaysia's economic growth would propel the nation of 30 million people in its aspiration to reach developed nation status.
He said the US was welcome to continue working hand-in-hand with Malaysia to ensure the peace and stability of the region.
"This could be attained through the shared values of mutual respect, understanding and moderation, coupled by strong people-to-people relations, testifying both our countries' goodwill and mutual understanding," he added.
Malaysia, he said, would continue its efforts to build a strong and lasting relationship with the US as a foundation for the stability and prosperity of the two countries.
Tuanku Abdul Halim hoped that Obama would enjoy Malaysian hospitality and return to the US with fond memories of the country.
"We hope your visit to Malaysia is both meaningful and memorable. We pray for your continued good health, as well as that of your family, and for the people of the US," he concluded. - Bernama
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