Malaysia: Background and U.S. Relations [May 23, 2014]   [open pdf - 0B]

"Malaysia, a majority Muslim nation in Southeast Asia, has long been a partner in U.S. security and economic initiatives in the region, although political sensitivities in Malaysia have constrained both sides from forging deeper ties or even acknowledging how close the relationship is. Bilateral relations have improved over the past decade, especially under Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has made relations with the United States a priority. The Obama Administration has emphasized deeper engagement with Malaysia and other 'emerging partners' in Southeast Asia as part of the strategic 'rebalancing' of U.S. resources and attention to the Asia-Pacific region. Congress has expressed interest in a variety of issues in U.S.-Malaysia relations over the years, especially regarding trade, security cooperation, human rights, and Malaysia's diplomacy. […] Malaysia has been a constructive diplomatic actor on numerous regional and global issues. Efforts to promote moderate Islam and marginalize religious extremism have been a major part of Malaysian diplomacy, including acting as a mediator in conflicts between Muslim separatist groups and the central government in both Thailand and the Philippines. Kuala Lumpur maintains good relations with its neighbors and has promoted cooperation among the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Malaysia is one of several Southeast Asian countries with maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea, although it has assumed a low profile in those disputes. U.S.-Malaysia security cooperation includes counter-terrorism activities, numerous military exercises, ship visits, and military education exchanges."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43505
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