KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday (Oct 30) brushed off suggestions that he was not invited to stay at the Blair House - the US President's guest house - during his trip to Washington last month because he was not welcomed.
"Even though I did not stay at the Blair House, I had an invite to play golf with President Trump. President Trump also walked me to my car ... We still get the highest honour from the US administration," said Mr Najib in Parliament.
He was replying to opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who had asked why he did not receive an invitation to stay at Blair House, unlike Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Mr Lee stayed at Blair House on Oct 21 during his last official working visit to Washington - his third time staying at the building.
Mr Najib added that he did not pay for his trip to the US as it was "official government business", unlike his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad.
"My predecessor had to pay to get an invite from President (George W) Bush. We do not practise that ... and my predecessor has now been accepted by the opposition ... so that's great then," said Mr Najib.
The Malaysian Insight reported that Dr Mahathir paid a lobbyist to arrange a meeting with then President Bush in 2002.
Blair House is a building in Washington DC that is actually a complex of four buildings that were previously separate - Blair House, Lee House, Peter Parker House and 74 Jackson Place. These were reconstituted into a single facility after renovations between the 1950s and 1980s.
Blair House is one of several residences owned by the US Government for use by the President and Vice-President. Others include the White House itself, and Camp David. Blair House, unlike the White House, is closed to the public.
It has been called “the world’s most exclusive hotel” as it is primarily used to host visiting dignitaries and other guests of the president. These included Japan’s Emperor Akihito, Queen Elizabeth II, Vladimir Putin, Margaret Thatcher, Narendra Modi and Justin Trudeau.