KUALA LUMPUR: United States (US) Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken arrived here on Tuesday (Dec 14) night to begin his two-day working visit to Malaysia.

The special aircraft carrying Blinken and his 39-member entourage landed at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang near here at about 10.30pm.

On hand to welcome him were Foreign Affairs Ministry Chief of Protocol Datuk Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah, Undersecretary of the Americas division Wan Aznainizam Yusri Wan Abdul Rashid as well as US ambassador to Malaysia Brian McFeeters.

Kuala Lumpur is Blinken’s second stop in a three-country tour of South-East Asia.

He was in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Monday (Dec 13) before arriving in Malaysia. He is expected to continue with his travel itinerary to Bangkok, Thailand.

On Wednesday (Dec 15), Blinken will join a bilateral meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah in Putrajaya before calling on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob at the Parliament building later in the day.

Blinken’s visit is seen significant as US moves to enhance engagement with South-East Asia and strengthen its position in the Indo-Pacific.

According to Wisma Putra, the visit will provide an excellent opportunity for Malaysia and the US to further strengthen the multi-faceted cooperation and explore new joint initiatives.

The United States established diplomatic ties with Malaysia in 1957 following the then Malaya’s independence from Britain.

Washington and Kuala Lumpur elevated bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Partnership in April 2014.

Prior to this, many notable US state secretaries had visited Malaysia including Mike Pompeo in August 2018, Rex Tillerson in 2017, Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2010 and Condoleezza Rice in 2006. – Bernama