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Thursday July 24, 2008 MYT 11:48:08 AM

US rejects claim that Anwar case is an internal affair

SINGAPORE: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday urged Malaysia to be transparent and follow the rule of law in dealing with the sodomy accusation against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

"The United States has long spoken and will continue to speak up about cases that we think need to be thought about in terms of the political circumstances,'' said Rice, who is here to attend a regional security conference.

"We want to see transparency and for rule of law to be completely followed there,'' she told reporters just before going into the 27-nation meeting. "We are always going to speak up on human rights cases, political cases, but we do so in a spirit of respect for Malaysia.''

Rice said "part of the comfort level or the confidence that states need to bring to the international system is that their judicial systems are indeed responsive to rule of law and (are) transparent and fair.''

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, center, walks through the lobby of Shangri-La hotel after attending the 15th ASEAN Regional Forum retreat meeting in Singapore, Thursday. - AP

She also rejected Malaysia's claim that the Anwar case is an internal affair.

"The United States doesn't recognise this very firm barrier that it is simply internal affairs when a case of this kind comes up, but we are going to continue to work with Malaysia,'' she said.

Rice's comments were the first public remarks in response to a protest letter that Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said he sent to her earlier this month. Rais also attended Thursday's meeting.

In the letter, he expressed regret about the earlier US comments, which he said were "uncalled for'' and tantamount to interference in Malaysia's affairs. - AP

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