BEIJING, May 28 (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will not meet with the families of Chinese passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 when he visits Beijing for the first time since the plane disappeared.
Najib will meet President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and head of parliament Zhang Dejiang during a six-day visit ending Sunday to mark 40 years of diplomatic ties, a Malaysian foreign ministry official told Reuters.
But Najib will not meet the families of missing passengers, about two-thirds of whom were Chinese. A spokesman for Najib’s China delegation told Reuters on Wednesday he could not immediately comment on why there would be no meeting.
“We’ve asked [Najib’s office] today, we asked yesterday and the day before that. We’ve been demanding it for a month now with no response,” said a family member surnamed Xu. “It’s not right, he has an obligation to meet with us.”
The Boeing Co 777 plane carrying 239 passengers and crew disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing almost three months ago.
Satellite data showed the flight likely ended in a remote area of the Indian Ocean west of Australia, but the most extensive search in aviation history has so far failed to find any trace of the plane.
Passengers’ families have grown increasingly frustrated with the search and have complained that Malaysian authorities have not provided enough information.
Malaysia, for its part, has said it has repeatedly briefed next of kin and made great efforts to determine the plane’s fate.
During his first visit to China since the incident, Najib will also speak about Malay language education at a university, view a cultural performance and meet entrepreneurs, said the Malaysian foreign ministry official.
“If he was in Malaysia we wouldn’t ask him to come [and meet us],” said a family member surnamed Wang. “But since he has the opportunity to come here, why won’t he meet with us?”
Qin Gang, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a regular press briefing he had no information of any arrangement for Najib to meet with the families.
“China has provided assistance and urged Malaysia Airlines to appropriately provide aid and comfort to the families of Chinese passengers, and we will continue to do so,” Qin said. (Editing by Christopher Cushing)