US not at war with any religion: Obama

KUALA LUMPUR - Assertions in IS propaganda about the United States being at war with an entire religion were absolutely false and must be rejected, said President Barack Obama.

He said the United States could never be at war with any religion, including Islam, because America is made up of multiple religions.

"It is strengthened by people from every religion, including Muslim Americans," said Obama during a press conference at The Ritz-Carlton here yesterday.

He described IS as "a bunch of killers, with good social media", but pointed out that the global coalition against their "twisted ideology" included many leaders from Muslim communities.

He said the coalition would not accept the idea that terrorist attacks on restaurants and hotels was the new norm, or that it was powerless to stop terrorism.

"That's the nature of terrorism. They can't beat us on the battlefield, so they try to terrorise us into being afraid, into changing our patterns of behaviour.

"We will not give in to fear, or start turning on each other, or treat some people differently because of religion, race or background."

Obama said that the IS, its leadership and network would be destroyed.

He said the key topics for discussion during his trip to the region were the South China Sea dispute, security and terrorism.

Obama said all 10 ASEAN leaders had accepted his invitation to go to the United States next year to continue discussions.

He also expressed confidence that all 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries would approve the pact.

Obama refused to comment on the financial controversies in Malaysia.

"I don't comment on investigations happening back in the US. I'm certainly not going to comment on any investigations or legal proceedings that are taking place in a foreign country where I'm a visitor."

Obama, who arrived on Friday for the 27th ASEAN Summit and related summits, said he spoke to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak about the importance of transparency and tackling corruption, as he does with other world leaders.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, Malaysia's Ambassador to the US Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin and Foreign Ministry chief protocol officer Datuk Kamilan Maksom were at the RMAF base in Subang to see Obama off early yesterday evening.

Twenty-eight officers of the First Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment stood by a red carpet leading to Air Force One as a guard of honour.

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