US senator John McCain arrives in Malta on Sunday for a two-day visit on his way back home from a trip to South Asia, The Times has learned.

Mr McCain will meet Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and other senior government officials on Monday.

Senator McCain, who was defeated in last month's US Presidential election by Barack Obama, is the ranking Republican member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

He is stopping over in Malta after a trip to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh where he discussed national security issues, the war on terrorism and American strategic ties with South Asia.

During his stay in Malta, the influential US senator, who is considered to be a foreign affairs expert, is expected to discuss US-Maltese relations and international issues such as the situation in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East and the war on terrorism.

Mr McCain will be accompanied by another senator from the Armed Services Committee, Joseph Lieberman, the independent Democrat who backed him for President in last month's election.

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