Security tight as Obama joins Asian leaders for Malaysia summit

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Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – US President Barack Obama joined Asian leaders in Malaysia Friday to attend a regional summit, where he was expected to put further pressure on China over its extensive land reclamation in the South China Sea.

Several main roads were closed around Kuala Lumpur and security was tightened ahead of the arrival of Obama and other leaders including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun Hye and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Obama came from Manila where he pledged millions of dollars towards beefing up maritime defences in the Philippines and other countries, and called on China to stop its reclamation and building on artificial islands in the South China Sea.

He was scheduled to hold a town hall meeting Friday with Malaysian students on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, and later meet embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been struggling to shake off a corruption scandal.

Earlier Friday, foreign ministers from the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) met to finalize preparations for the leaders’ two-day summit.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said the regional grouping was going to tackle economic issues, such as the prospective launch of the ASEAN single market.

The ASEAN Economic Community is supposed to give member states better leverage when negotiating free-trade agreements, and its final provisions are due to be enacted by the end of 2015.

The leaders were also expected to address human trafficking and climate change, as well as women’s empowerment, Anifah added.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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