Pompeo kicks off Southeast Asia trip in Malaysia
August 02 2018 06:44 PM
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang on Thursday.

dpa/Kuala Lumpur

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Malaysia late on Thursday, kicking off a five day, three-country visit to Southeast Asia amid growing Chinese influence in the region. 
Pompeo is set to discuss regional security and economic interests with recently elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and other senior officials in Kuala Lumpur.
North Korea will also be high on the agenda as Pompeo seeks to shore up support among US allies in the region for President Donald Trump's plan to denuclearise the reclusive country. 
Pompeo is under pressure to deliver progress following the historic summit in June between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Pompeo travels on to Singapore on Friday to attend a meeting of Southeast Asian nations, where he is expected to talk with several counterparts on the sidelines. 
He is still set to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, despite the announcement of sanctions against two key ministers.
However, a rumoured meeting between Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - their second face-to-face meeting since the high-profile US-Russia summit in Helsinki last month - will not take place due to scheduling conflicts, Russia's Tass news agency said. 
Iran's foreign minister is also not planning to meet with Pompeo on the sidelines in Singapore, despite Trump's announcement this week that he is willing to meet Iran's leadership without preconditions.
As long as the US administration doesn't hold to international agreements such as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, such a meeting doesn't make sense, said Javad Zarif, according to the Irna news agency.
"The Americans must first prove that they hold to the outcomes of such talks," added Zarif. 
Pompeo moves on to Jakarta on Saturday.
Ahead of the trip, Pompeo announced that the US will invest $113mn in technology, energy and infrastructure in the region. 
The plan is aimed at confronting China's aggressive development strategy and growing influence in the Indo-Pacific through the controversial construction of militarised islands in the South China Sea.
Pompeo said on Monday that the investments "represent just a downpayment on a new era in US economic commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region."
He said the US "will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific, and we will oppose any country that does," in an apparent reference to China.

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