July 20, 2004

Malaysian leader, Bush discuss Middle East


President Bush, right, listens to Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi address members of the press during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, July 19, 2004 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON -- Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, meeting Monday with President Bush, played down differences over U.S. policies toward Iraq and Israel and urged greater involvement by Muslim nations in alleviating poverty in the Middle East.
After the White House meeting, Bush said he assured Abdullah that the United States wants to develop a Palestinian state that can coexist peacefully with Israel. Abdullah said he was comfortable with that assurance, and hoped other Muslim countries would consider it a hopeful sign.
Abdullah said although Malaysia and the United States have differences over U.S. policy toward Israel and Palestinians, "You cannot judge our bilateral relations simply on the basis of what you hear."
He also repeated an earlier promise to send "a sizable medical team" to Iraq, and said Malaysia hopes "to be able to also participate in reconstruction of Iraq and do whatever job we can in that country."
Bush said Abdullah offered "some very interesting suggestions" on Iraq and the Middle East, and he thanked Abdullah for Malaysia's help in global counterterrorism efforts.
Last week, Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi issued a plea for help from countries with large Muslim populations. The plea came after a bloody spate of suicide bombings, hostage-takings and beheadings in Iraq that rocked the U.S.-led coalition. The violence prompted the Philippines to pull out its tiny contingent and led anxious people elsewhere to demand that their troops come home.
Malaysia has already said it probably will not dispatch troops to Iraq.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"