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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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US president Barack Obama in Malaysia amid massive security

Final leg of his six-day visit to Asia

Share on Facebook November 22, 2015, Reporter : BigNewsNet, Reader : 428

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - US President Barack Obama landed in Malaysia over the weekend for the final leg of his six-day visit to Asia, amid high security following the terror attacks in Paris last week.

At least 2,000 troops have been stationed around the capital Kuala Lumpur, and police have said there are unconfirmed reports of a "terrorist threat".

Obama is joining leaders of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) for a weekend summit in the city.

Although focused on the Southeast Asian economies, the meeting is likely to be overshadowed by US-China tensions.

Washington and Beijing are at odds over China's programme of land reclamation in parts of the the South China Sea.

It disputes ownership with the Philippines, which is supported by the US.

Obama arrived in Malaysia from the Philippines, where he said China must stop its dredging in the waters controlled by Manila.

Speaking at an economic summit of Asia Pacific nations (Apec) in Manila, Obama reiterated a US pledge of monetary and naval assistance to the Philippines.

China claims most of the South China Sea and has repeatedly stated that its dredging work is legal.

The land reclamation, which began in late 2013, has turned submerged reefs into islands, but China has said it has "no intention to militarise" those islands, a statement seen as largely empty by Western military analysts.

Along with the US and China, and the 10 Asean members, leaders from Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and South Korea will also attend the summit in Kuala Lumpur.

Obama has also pledged to raise the US' concerns over Malaysia's human rights record when he meets Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

In response to a question on the issue from a Malaysian student at a meet and greet, he said, "I will do it. I admit I was going to do it anyway but now that I heard it from you, I'm definitely going to do it."

Critics have accused Najib of an escalating crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression after losing the popular vote in the 2013 general election.

Presenting problems for Obama is the fact that he has done so under the guide of countering terrorism.

Obama has strengthened ties with Asia-Pacific nations towards the end of his second term in an attempt to "rebalance" American foreign policy and counter the increasing regional influence of China.> BNN

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