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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obama asks Indonesia to ‘join hands’

Erwida Maulia , The Jakarta Post

US President Barack Obama called his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday to express Washington’s willingness to involve Jakarta in tackling , including the environment and the financial crisis.

Obama also told Yudhoyono in the 10-minute phone conversation that he wanted to build “a comprehensive partnership” between the two countries, said Indonesian presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal.

The US president also thanked Indonesia for the “warm” and “friendly” welcome it had extended to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she visited the country last month, Dino said.

“President Obama said he wanted to work together with Indonesia in coping with global issues, such as climate change,” Dino told The Jakarta Post.

“The two leaders also discussed the prospects and preparations ahead of the G-20 Summit in London this April, and they pledged to make it a success.”

Yudhoyono and Obama will attend the annual summit of the group of the world’s largest economies, in which Indonesia and the United States are members.

Regarding bilateral relations between Indonesia and the United States, Dino said Obama agreed with Yudhoyono’s proposal on a comprehensive partnership between the two countries, and was willing to realize it.

The partnership was proposed by Yudhoyono during their first phone conversation in November last year. Yudhoyono was on a stopover in Seattle on his way back home from the APEC Summit in Lima when he received then president-elect Obama’s phone call.

Secretary Clinton said during her visit to Jakarta that “building a comprehensive partnership with Indonesia is a critical step on behalf of the United States’ commitment to smart power”.

“The partnership is welcomed by President Obama, who wants to realize the proposal,” Dino said.

He added Obama still maintained his fluency in pronouncing Indonesian words.

“When President [Yudhoyono] began with, ‘Apa kabar?’ [How are you?], Obama answered in Indonesian, ‘Baik-baik’ [I’m fine],” Dino said.

But he said the two leaders did not specifically discuss relations between the United States and the Muslim world.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla touched on this issue when he met with his US counterpart Joe Biden in Washington in early February.

Kalla said during the meeting that Indonesia hailed the changes Obama had initiated, but was curious to see if they would have an impact on relations between the West and the Muslim world, which took a hammering under the administration of former president George W. Bush.

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