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Clinton Makes Bid to Improve Ties with Muslim-Majority Malaysia

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Malaysia for talks on improving relations with that Muslim-majority nation as she continues a tour of Asia.

Clinton arrived in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, late Monday, from Cambodia. On Tuesday, she is expected to hold meetings with her Malaysian counterpart, Anifah Aman, and with Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in place of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is ill.

Ahead of Clinton's visit, her top diplomat for Asia, Kurt Campbell, said Malaysia has made "enormous progress" on issues such as proliferation of weapons, and political coordination and strategic dialogue with the United States. He said "few nations" have come as far as Malaysia in terms of relations with the U.S.

Clinton also is due to hold talks with Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is on trial on sodomy charges that could see him jailed for years. He previously served six years in prison on separate sex and corruption offenses until being released in 2004.

Malaysia's official Bernama news agency said Clinton's delegation also will sign an agreement with Kuala Lumpur on science and technology cooperation.

Secretary Clinton also is scheduled to engage in public diplomacy with Malaysians by speaking at the International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization in the capital.

She is the first U.S. secretary of state to make a bilateral visit to Malaysia since Warren Christopher in 1995. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Malaysia in a multi-lateral context in 2006 to attend a regional forum.

Earlier Monday in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, Clinton expressed support for a U.N.-sponsored tribunal that is prosecuting the country's former Khmer Rouge leaders. She said the tribunal's work is "necessary to ensure a lasting peace."

She also agreed to reopen talks on settling Cambodian debts to the United States of $445 million owed from the 1970s.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.