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Clinton:  US Wants Closer Ties to Indonesia

  • Katie Hamann


For Indonesia, the decision by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to include Jakarta as the second stop on her Asian tour is further confirmation of America's desire to build closer ties between the two nations.

For President Obama, it was a relationship that began almost four decades ago when he came to live in the capital as a young boy. And it's this history that has generated enormous goodwill towards the United States by ordinary Indonesians.

"President Obama has a very strong constituency here in Indonesia, of course without the right to vote," explained Foreign Minister Hasan Wirajuda. "But I believe the government and the people of Indonesia would like very much to welcome President Obama on his trip to Indonesia and I can say that we cannot wait too long, and I wish that Secretary Clinton would convey this to President Obama."

Clinton's visit is seen as further confirmation of the country's growing importance in the region. Clinton said Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has proved that "Islam, democracy and modernity cannot only co-exist, but thrive together."

''You know the United States and Indonesia share more than interests," Clinton said. "We do share common values. We have both embraced democracy. Indonesia has experienced a great transformation in the past 10 years, building strong and growing institutions, welcoming and developing a vibrant civil society and at the same time respecting human rights and a successful fight against terrorism and extremism, ending sectarian and separatist conflicts. And working to make the world a safer place for global trade and for human rights."

The top U.S. diplomat said she and President Obama want to build a "comprehensive partnership" with Indonesia in dealing with such pressing issues as the global economy and climate change. She also said Washington and Jakarta will take the lead in pushing Burma's military junta to embrace democratic reforms.

"Clearly the path we have taken in imposing sanctions has not influenced the Burmese junta, but as the Minister pointed out in our working meeting, reaching out and trying to engage with them has not worked either," Clinton noted. "So this a problem, not just for Indonesia and the United States, but for the entire region. You know we are going to work closely and we are going to consult with Indonesia for ideas about how best to bring about positive change in Burma."

Clinton visited the Association of Southeast Asian Nations secretariat, where she signaled U.S. intent to sign the regional bloc's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Clinton also plans to pledge to attend the group's annual regional security conference, U.S. officials said.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice skipped the ASEAN Regional Forum twice during her four years in office.

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