U.S. President Barack Obama has held talks with Malaysia's prime minister on the third leg of a four-nation tour of Asia - the first trip to the Southeast Asian nation by a sitting U.S. president in nearly five decades.
At a joint news conference Sunday, Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his gratitude for American help in the search for missing Malaysia Airline flight 370. Mr. Obama pledged to continue providing all the assistance possible in the search for the plane, which has been missing for seven weeks.
The two leaders said they had agreed to upgrade upper-level ties to a "comprehensive partnership," and to cooperate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and the nuclear Proliferation Security Initiative, both of which Malaysia has opposed in the past.
When questioned about Malaysia's human rights record, Mr. Obama said the country had made progress on human rights, but still has some work to do. He added that the U.S. also does.
Mr. Obama attended a state dinner in his honor Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia's King Abdul Halim said in a toast to Mr. Obama that Malaysia was thankful for the "unwavering support and cooperation" by the U.S. in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, and also praised the strong economic ties between the two nations, adding that this cooperation will help Malaysia reach a developed nation status.
This is Mr. Obama's fifth visit to Asia since taking office in 2009. He has promised to make the Pacific region a greater economic, diplomatic and military priority for the United States.
Before his departure from South Korea earlier Saturday, Mr. Obama spoke to American troops stationed in Seoul, telling them that the United States "will not hesitate to use our military might to defend our allies and our way of life.'' The president's comment comes amid threats by North Korea to conduct its fourth nuclear test.
During a joint news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul Friday, Mr. Obama said Pyongyang will get nothing except further isolation if it proceeds with a nuclear test.
The South Korean leader said Mr. Obama's visit sends a firm message that North Korea's provocation will not be tolerated.