World Bulletin / News Desk
Liow Tiong Lai told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Friday that China, Australia and Malaysia would meet by Jan. 28 to chart the next course of action to recover the missing aircraft.
The minister noted that the search, which is being led by Australia at the request of the Malaysian government and is almost in its 3rd year, has covered nearly 120,000 square kilometers (46,332 square miles) of earmarked ocean in a RM650 million ($145 million) effort.
"We are in the final lap within these two weeks. Once we complete that, they [the search teams] will report to us, and then we will have a tripartite meeting," he said.
He added that the tripartite committee -- formed to take all-important decisions since the aircraft went missing -- remains hopeful of finding the main wreckage of MH370.
"There were a lot of assumptions. [But] we need credible clues to look for the plane, so we are waiting for the final report from the search teams."
Flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur enroute to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
The jetliner has yet to be found despite massive search operations in the southern Indian Ocean where the aircraft was believed to have ended its flight after diverting from its original route.
The search and rescue mission -- which began immediately after -- involved some 160 assets as well as experts from 25 countries.
The undersea search has found no trace of the plane, although three pieces of debris discovered on the beaches of Mauritius, Tanzania and the French island of Reunion have been confirmed to be from MH370.
Investigators continue to examine several other pieces found in Mozambique and South Africa.
After 10 months of intensive undersea search for the vanished flight, on Jan. 29, 2015 Malaysia declared MH370 lost in an accident, killing all passengers.
On July 29 last year, a piece of aircraft debris was found washed ashore on Reunion, east of Madagascar.
The debris -- believed to be from a Boeing 777 -- was sent to Toulouse, France, for analysis the following day.
Days after, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the flaperon was from MH370, and that the flight had indeed ended in the Indian Ocean.