Tuesday, November 17, 1998 Published at 08:02 GMT
Malaysia hits back at Gore
Mr Gore's comments have not impressed his hosts
Foreign Minister Abdullah Badawi said said remarks made by US Vice-President were "most unwarranted".
Earlier Mr Gore provoked fury amongst Malaysian government ministers by expressing support for the country's reform movement. He went on to reiterate the need for democracy and freedom.
"Moving into the 21st century with a strong economy really requires democracy and self-government," he said.
At a dinner for Apec business leaders on Monday night, Mr Gore delivered what correspondents say was a stinging rebuke to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad by praising the "brave people" of Malaysia calling for "reformasi".
The term has become the slogan for supporters of the sacked Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim whose trial on charges of corruption and sexual misconduct has become the focus for unprecedented anti-government protests.
Other delegations have moved to stop the row disrupting the economic business of the summit. New Zealand prime minister Jenny Shipley criticised what she termed megaphone diplomacy.
Mr Anwar's trial has been suspended for the duration of the summit.
Government 'totally disgusted'
Malaysian ministers denounced Mr Gore's comments as unwarranted interference in their internal affairs.
Trade Minister, Rafidah Aziz, a close ally of Dr Mahathir, said Mr Gore did not understand what was happening in Malaysia and his message was to condone riots and demonstrations.
Education Minister Najib Abdul Razak also criticised the Vice-President for what he called "an absolutely intolerable state of behaviour and unbecoming of a leader of the United States."
The furore following Mr Gore's speech has overshadowed the unveiling of a $10bn aid package from Japan and the US intended to help the region regain some of its economic lustre.
The Japanese government has responded coolly to the diplomatic row, with the Prime Minister, Keizo Obuchi, saying he hoped "law and justice" would solve the political upheaval in Malaysia.
Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said Mr Gore's comments were inappropriate to the meeting: "Politics should not get in the way of Apec."
"Apec is an economic forum where cooperation is being sought," she said. "Clearly there are some pressing bilateral issues that countries want to raise here in Malaysia but it should not be at the expense of Apec."
New Zealand will play host to the next meeting of Apec leaders in 1999.