Hillary says Obama will stay the course
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Last Updated: Wednesday, November 03, 2010, 09:58
Kuala Lumpur: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday, she expects President Barack Obama to stay the course on domestic and foreign policy, even if Republicans make big gains, as expected, in hotly contested congressional midterm elections.

On a visit to predominantly Muslim Malaysia, where she was promoting religious and political tolerance, Clinton told students and civic leaders that she had spoken to Obama by phone on the eve of the vote, and joked that she thought he seemed "a little envious" that she was abroad for an election that may see Democrats lose control of Congress.

"I think he was a little envious that I am here," Clinton said, describing the phone call she and Obama had at 1 a.m. midday yesterday on Washington time.

But she said that even if the Republicans win Congress, the Obama administration will pursue its agenda.

"The political winds blow back and forth but I think you will find that President Obama is a pretty steady captain of the ship,' Clinton said. "No matter what happens in our election, you will see him ... continuing to promote his agenda, which I think is right for America and right for the world."

Clinton is barred from partisan political activity as America's top diplomat, but said she personally thought Obama is doing an "excellent job" in handling complex domestic and foreign policy matters.

Turning to Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation that has made great economic strides, Clinton urged that the country keep to its traditionally moderate roots and reject extremism while opening the political arena to all.

After the town hall meeting, Clinton met with Malaysian leaders to boost counter terrorism and security cooperation. Malaysia, which is providing medical services in Afghanistan, has been supportive of those efforts and US officials say they are keen to expand its role.

"Extremism is not a path to building sustainable prosperity, peace, stability or democracy, it only promotes conflicts and hardens hearts," she told reporters in a joint news conference with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, who is promoting a Malaysian initiative to create a global interfaith dialogue.

Clinton sidestepped a potentially volatile political situation by deciding against having a face-to-face meeting with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is currently on trial for sodomy in what the U.S. and many others believe to be a politically motivated prosecution. However, she said she had raised the case with Anifah.

Clinton is visiting Malaysia in the midst of a two-week, seven-nation journey through Asia that already has taken her to Vietnam, China and Cambodia. From Malaysia, she heads to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.


First Published: Wednesday, November 03, 2010, 09:58

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