The United States will continue to scrutinise the controversial sodomy trial of Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim despite improving bilateral relations, a US official said.
"Let's be clear that the two sides try not to avoid the issues on which there will be continuing discussions, perhaps some difficulties and challenges, and any good relationship is able to deal with those issues," Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs Kurt Campbell said.
"We must say, it is well known to all of you, Anwar has many friends in the United States -- very high level friends, people who care about him and we want very much for his treatment to be just and we are watching carefully in this regard," Campbell said.
Anwar is facing trial over allegations he had illicit sexual relations with a young man who worked in his office.
The 62-year-old opposition leader has said the sodomy trial, which could see him jailed for up to 20 years if convicted, is a plot to end his political career.
Anwar was sacked in 1998 and convicted on sodomy and corruption charges but was released in 2004 after the sexual misconduct count was overturned, allowing him to make a comeback to politics as the leader of a reinvigorated opposition.