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Obama’s visit a nod to Malaysia’s growing role in the int'l stage, says FM
Publication Date : 26-04-2014
US President Barack Obama’s visit is a recognition of Malaysia’s growing role in the international stage as Kuala Lumpur is getting ready to take over the Asean chairmanship next year and seeking a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Malaysia was ready to strengthen its engagement with the United States as Kuala Lumpur grew into the role as one of the region’s “middle powers”.
He said Obama’s visit came as Malaysia was ascending to prominent leadership positions on the international stage.
“The year 2015 will see Malaysia taking over the chairmanship of Asean at a pivotal point when the Asean economic community is announced.
“We are also vying for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the fourth time in the country’s young history.
“We’ll take the opportunity to highlight our bid to President Obama.
“Therefore, we view the visit as America’s recognition of Malaysia’s rising international influence and we are ready to strengthen our engagement with the United States as we grow into our role as one of the region’s ‘middle powers’,” he told a media briefing yesterday.
Obama’s maiden visit here, he said, provided a timely opportunity for both sides to reflect on the progress in bilateral ties and chart a way for the future at a time when Kuala Lumpur-Washington relations were at a zenith.
“The visit will set the path for our relationship in the years to come.
“It is an important milestone in our bilateral relations and I am confident that it will serve to strengthen our good relations with the United States for the mutual benefit of both countries,” he said.
Anifah noted the good rapport between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the 44th US President.
He said the visit would be an opportunity for Malaysia to profile its home-grown Global Movement of Moderates to the United States, referring to the initiative which promoted moderation as an approach towards global peace and justice.
On Malaysia’s view of China and the United States in handling of the South China Sea issues, Anifah said it was important that both countries played a positive role.
“It is not a question of picking sides as the region needs both countries.
“The real question is how to manage the different relationships to ensure stability, peace and prosperity,” he said.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea.
Nansha is the Chinese name for the Spratlys, a chain of resource-rich islands, islets and reefs claimed partly or wholly by China, the Philippines, Malaysia and other South-East Asian nations.
Anifah said Malaysia welcomed the pledge by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Asean Summit not to use force in resolving the matter.
He said stability in the South China Sea would be one of Malaysia’s main priorities when it assumed the Asean chairmanship next year.