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President Donald Trump greets Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House, Washington, Sept. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The Limits to U.S.-Malaysia Ties Under Trump and Najib

Monday, Oct. 2, 2017

When Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House last month, they tried to forge more common ground on key issues and manage some of their differences. Although Najib and Trump made some progress as they commemorated the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties between Malaysia and the U.S., bigger tests will come in their bid to surmount deeper obstacles that stand in the way of really broadening the relationship.

Throughout the past 60 years, the United States and Malaysia have had to find ways to cooperate despite often stark disagreements on matters such as human rights, economic policy and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. During Barack Obama’s presidency, U.S.-Malaysia ties hit a new high, with both sides elevating the relationship to the level of a comprehensive partnership and Malaysia becoming a member of key U.S.-led initiatives, from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, to the international coalition against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. ...

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