KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia deployed soldiers in its capital city on Friday, taking extra security precautions amid unconfirmed reports of an "imminent terrorist threat" ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's arrival for a regional summit.

"There have been reports of imminent terrorist threats in Malaysia," Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement on Thursday night. "At this point, I would like to underline that they have yet to be confirmed."

Malaysia tightened security following terrorist attacks in France, Egypt and Lebanon, Khalid said. Obama is joining leaders of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a weekend summit. Leaders from seven other countries with close partnerships with the grouping - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and South Korea - will also attend the meetings starting on Saturday.

At least 2,000 army personnel were being stationed at strategic points in Kuala Lumpur and another 2,500 were on standby, Armed Forces chief Zulkifeli Mohd Zin said.

Obama and most of the other leaders coming to Kuala Lumpur attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila. Obama has tried to turn the heat on China over its territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea and assure allies that a U.S. "pivot" to Asia remains a core policy.

Beijing's claim to almost the entire South China Sea is shown on Chinese maps with a nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia. This clashes with claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

In a legal setback for Beijing, an arbitration court in the Netherlands ruled in October it has jurisdiction to hear some territorial claims the Philippines has filed against China over disputed areas in the South China Sea.

While ASEAN has yet to take a collective stand about China's increasingly assertive posture in the South China Sea, its secretary general said it was no surprise member countries are looking for peaceful ways to challenge it.

"They have the right to take any path or any process, as long as its a peaceful one conducive to a solution of the dispute," ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said in an interview.