The Petronas Towers. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
US President Barack Obama said Islamist militancy and the South China Sea disputes would dominate Kuala Lumpur’s summits this weekend.
After meeting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Obama told the media: “Malaysia is part of the coalition to fight [Islamic State] and can be extraordinarily helpful on issues like countering the destructive and perverse narrative that’s developed.”
Malaysia has boosted security around Kuala Lumpur as leaders from 18 countries arrived for two weekend summits amid fresh attacks by Islamist militants.
Malaysia’s police chief reported an “imminent terrorist threat”, following last week’s attacks in Paris and the bombing of a Russian airliner over Egypt by suspected Islamic State-affiliated militants.
Around 4,500 soldiers were deployed or on standby and thousands of police patrolled the capital.
The venue is home to the Petronas Towers, once the world’s tallest buildings, and a convention centre where the summits are taking place.
Leaders from China, Japan, Russia, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are attending the East Asia Summit following the annual Asean meeting.
Shortly after Obama arrived, reports from Mali said gunmen shouting Islamist slogans had attacked the Radisson in the capital of Bamako, taking 170 guests and staff hostage.
Obama said the United States was “monitoring the situation”.
“Malaysia’s government is very clear we are against IS, against the ideology. It is evil. It is against Islam. It is a perversion of Islam, and they do not represent us,” Najib said after his talks with Obama.
“It’s important for us to present the authentic Islam.”
These are real concerns to us in the region,” the prime minister told Asean business leaders. “And we in Asean, we are inherently moderate people.”
In September, police claimed to have thwarted a plot to detonate bombs in Bukit Bintang, a tourist area near the Petronas Towers. Other recent successes claimed by the security forces included a thwarted attempt to raid army camps and seize weapons.
Most of the leaders are arriving from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila.