Malaysia Still in Talks With Australia, China on Paying for Flight 370 Search

By Dow Jones Business News, 

By Jason Ng

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysia said Sunday it is still negotiating with Australia and China on how the three nations would share the costs of the search to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Australia is currently leading the search operation in the southern Indian Ocean, where the Boeing 777 carrying 239 passengers and crew is believed to have crashed. It had taken off on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 when it disappeared. Most of the passengers were from China.

Malaysia had pledged to share the cost with Australia. The Chinese had yet to decide on whether to chip in, Abdul Rahim Bakri, Malaysia's deputy defense minister, said last month. It is unclear whether the Chinese have made a decision, and no one at the Foreign Ministry returned a request for comment.

"The sharing of cost is still being negotiated but I think it is only fair that China [and] Australia, together with Malaysia, find a way to share [and] bear the cost," Malaysia's Defense Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, told reporters at the sideline of a photo exhibition.

Australia, China and Malaysia signed an agreement to coordinate search efforts in the remote ocean. The comment comes as authorities engage private contractors to lead the search after dozens of military ships and aircraft failed to locate Flight 370. A handful of commercial ships previously scoured the ocean surface but only yielded garbage.

Australia has invited bids, and the winning company or research organization will begin the search in August. That search effort is expected to cost up to 60 million Australian dollars (US$55.5 million) set aside by the Australian government.

Malaysia disclosed last month that it had spent 27.6 million ringgit ($8.64 million) on fuel, food and other search-related items since the disappearance of Flight 370, but flagged that the cost may continue to rise.

Mr. Hishammuddin also said Malaysia will dispatch a Navy vessel, KD Mutiara, that will set sail Aug. 4 with specialized equipment to join in the bathymetric survey of the terrain of the ocean floor.

Write to Jason Ng at

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