Asia

Obama lands in Malaysia as 'threat' prompts high security

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) during a town hall meeting at Taylor"s University in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. Image copyright AP
Image caption President Obama spoke at a youth conference at a university in Kuala Lumpur shortly after arriving on Friday

US President Barack Obama has landed in Malaysia for the final leg of a six-day visit to Asia, amid high security following last week's attacks in Paris.

At least 2,000 troops have been stationed around the capital Kuala Lumpur, with police citing unconfirmed reports of a "terrorist threat".

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

The economic meeting is likely to be overshadowed by US-China tensions.

The two nations are at odds over China's programme of land reclamation in parts of the the South China Sea, over which it disputes ownership with the Philippines.

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

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


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Media captionChina has been building islands in the South China Sea, a source of controversy

China's island factory

Why is the South China Sea contentious?


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

The land reclamation, which began in late 2013, has turned submerged reefs into islands. China has said it has "no intention to militarise" those islands.

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.

China said it does not want the issue - on which the Asean group has yet to take a collective stance - to dominate the summit.

Human rights

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

"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," he said, in response to a question from a Malaysian student.

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

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