Obama arrived from an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, where he sought to promote a greater US economic role.
The US President will attend weekend meetings of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) followed by an East Asia Summit that brings in another seven nations, including China and Japan. State Department officials said freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, along with trade and economic issues, will feature in those meetings.
Obama is making his second visit to Malaysia in two years. It comes amid allegations by US lawmakers and rights groups that his administration ignored Malaysia's abuse of trafficking victims to ensure its accession to his Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
In talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday, Obama will "very directly" raise concerns about the status of the political opposition and respect for human rights, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said.
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