President Barack Obama on Saturday opened the first visit by a U.S. president in nearly half a century to Malaysia, the third stop on Obama\’s weeklong goodwill trip through Asia.
The visit signals closer bilateral relations after decades of uneasy ties.
Stepping off his plane and onto a red carpet at an airbase near Kuala Lumpur, the capital, Obama was met by an honour guard in crisp white uniforms.
Malaysia\’s foreign minister and top envoys to the US were on hand to greet Obama before he boarded his limousine for the drive to Parliament Square, the AP news agency reported.
Obama attended a state dinner in his honor Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia\’s King Abdul Halim said in a toast to Obama that his nation was thankful for the United States\’ "unwavering support and cooperation" in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight that had Malaysians and Americans on board. He also praised the strong economic ties between the two nations, adding that this cooperation will help Malaysia reach a developed nation status.
Obama\’s long-awaited visit to Malaysia had been scheduled for last autumn, but was postponed because of a US government shutdown.
His arrival comes as Malaysia has attracted international attention over the March 8 disappearance of a commercial airliner with 239 people on board.
Officials were preparing to widen the search area in a remote part of the ocean as Obama was arriving in Malaysia.
The airbase where Air Force One landed has been used as a staging ground for some of the recovery operations for the missing plane.
President Barack Obama is the first American leader to set foot in Malaysia since President Lyndon Johnson came here in 1966.