PUTRAJAYA -President Barack Obama's visit is a recognition of Malaysia's growing role in the international stage as Kuala Lumpur is getting ready to take over the ASEAN chairmanship next year and seeking a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Malaysia was ready to strengthen its engagement with the United States as Kuala Lumpur grew into the role as one of the region's "middle powers".
He said Obama's visit came as Malaysia was ascending to prominent leadership positions on the international stage.
"The year 2015 will see Malaysia taking over the chairmanship of ASEAN at a pivotal point when the ASEAN economic community is announced.
"We are also vying for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the fourth time in the country's young history.
"We'll take the opportunity to highlight our bid to President Obama.
"Therefore, we view the visit as America's recognition of Malaysia's rising international influence and we are ready to strengthen our engagement with the United States as we grow into our role as one of the region's 'middle powers'," he told a media briefing yesterday.
Obama's maiden visit here, he said, provided a timely opportunity for both sides to reflect on the progress in bilateral ties and chart a way for the future at a time when Kuala Lumpur-Washington relations were at a zenith.
"The visit will set the path for our relationship in the years to come.
"It is an important milestone in our bilateral relations and I am confident that it will serve to strengthen our good relations with the United States for the mutual benefit of both countries," he said.