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US hopes M’sia can help resolve global issues

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Jan 2009: The United States wants countries like Malaysia to share in the responsibility to resolve global economic problems and enhance world security and prosperity.

While understanding the hopes of the countries wanting to see change in US foreign policy under new President Barack Obama, US ambassador to Malaysia James R Keith said Americans were hoping that other countries could also contribute in resolving the major issues confronting the world today.

“I think the world demands changes in US (policy). You are quite right in asking for action to match words. What he (Obama) said (in his inauguration speech) is that the ground is changing under our feet (and) that we have to adjust to the changes.

“But, I think, it is also the case that the Americans are hoping that under shared responsibility we also see shared burden (where) other countries (like) Malaysia can also step up contribution to resolve global economic problems and increase security and prosperity … and we all need to work together,” he told reporters here.

Keith was asked about foreign policy changes under Obama’s administration after eight years of President George Bush’s policy which had purportedly marginalised the voices of the international community.

Obama was sworn in yesterday in Washington DC as the 44th president of the United States. In Kuala Lumpur, Keith attended a US presidential inauguration party.

Keith said Obama’s message clearly showed that he intended to reach out to all the countries in the world, the old and new partners.

“I think it is important that the president’s message at the inauguration, if you sum it up, he referred to common purpose and common interest and mutual respect and mutual interest. We all are together. That is the message,” he said.

He said Washington and Kuala Lumpur enjoyed tremendous cooperation, including in the field of security, and this would continue under Obama’s administration.

On the issue of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asking the people to boycott US products due to Washington’s support for Israel which had invaded the Gaza Strip and killed up to 1,300 Palestinians, Keith said he disagreed with the former prime minister. 

He said in today’s globalised world it was difficult to identify the origins of all the products in the world market and added that today’s world was about globalisation and interdependence.

He also stressed that Malaysia had benefited a lot from US investments and trade in this country, and pointed out that Washington was not the only actor in the effort to resolve the protracted Israel-Palestine issue as it also involved other stakeholders. 

Keith said the United States under Obama would take every possible effort and strive hard to resolve the issue and create a lasting and sustainable peace in the conflict-ridden Middle East. 

“I think you will find very early on … perhaps as early as this week … (the administration) will announce both policy and the personnel to be put in place to deal with the problem in the Middle East,” he said.

Washington under the Bush presidency had come under strong condemnation from the international community for its one-sided policy in dealing with the Gaza crisis as well the Israel-Palestine issue.

“I think you can look to us (the US new administration) to invest in Israel-Palestine peace and we will be working hard (on that issue),” Keith said. — Bernama



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