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Absent from Obama’s schedule in Malaysia: a meeting with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who presents the most potent political threat to Prime Minister Najib Razak amid a decline in Najib’s popular support over the past two elections.
The U.S. spurned calls from human rights groups for the president himself to meet with the 66-year-old former deputy prime minister, but was instead sending Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser and former U.N. ambassador, to see with him.
Anwar recently was convicted for the second time on sodomy charges that the U.S. and international human rights groups deem politically motivated. Anwar is appealing, and could be forced to give up his seat in parliament and go to prison if he loses.
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.
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