Obama Makes Landmark Visit to Malaysia

President Barack Obama has become the first U.S. president to visit Malaysia in nearly half a century. Obama on Saturday arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the third stop on an Asian tour aimed at reassuring allies in the region. 

President Barack Obama is the first American leader to set foot in Malaysia since President Lyndon Johnson came here in 1966.

With a red carpet, and an elaborate honor guard at a ceremony in central Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdul Halim and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak welcomed Obama on this two-day visit aimed at strengthening already robust trade and security ties.

Malaysia is predominantly Muslim and the national Mosque is on the president's itinerary as a gesture of good will. 

President Barack Obama toasts Malaysias King Abdul Halim of Kedah during a state dinner at Istana Negara Palace in Kuala Lumpur on Apr. 26, 2014. At left is Malaysias Prime Minister Najib Razak and at right is Queen Haminah. /Reuters President Barack Obama toasts Malaysia's King Abdul Halim of Kedah during a state dinner at Istana Negara Palace in Kuala Lumpur on Apr. 26, 2014. At left is Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak and at right is Queen Haminah. /Reuters

Obama arrived here from South Korea, where he offered reassurances to his allies as North Korea appears to prepare another nuclear test.  Before departing Seoul, the president spoke at Yongsan Garrison to some of the 28,000 troops the U.S. has stationed in South Korea.

Referring to North Korea, he said real strength lies not in military displays but in allowing democracy, free speech, and open markets that lift millions out of poverty.

“We don't use our military might to impose these things on others, but we will not hesitate to use our military might to defend our allies and our way of life," he said.

The president gave his condolences to South Koreans following the loss of more than 300 people in the recent ferry disaster.

He comes to Malaysia as the country remains preoccupied with last month's mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 with 239 people aboard. At a state dinner Saturday, the Malaysian monarch thanked Obama for U.S. cooperation in the ongoing search for the missing plane.

VOA News / Apr. 28, 2014 07:54 KST