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Obama Indonesia Stop to Echo Themes of India Visit


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Indian guests in a receiving line at a state dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, 08 Nov 2010

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Indian guests in a receiving line at a state dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, 08 Nov 2010

U.S. officials say the next stop on President Barack Obama's four nation Asia tour, Indonesia, will highlight some of the same themes of his three-day stay in India.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to arrive in Jakarta late Tuesday. It is a visit that had to be postponed twice earlier this year because of two domestic situations, including the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

On the schedule are bilateral talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and the next day a visit to Indonesia's largest mosque, and an address to the people of Indonesia, where Mr. Obama spent several years living as a boy.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File)

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File)

Though it is not known what the president will say in his speech at the University of Indonesia, White House officials provided a glimpse to reporters in New Delhi.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes, described what he called a direct connection between Mr. Obama's objectives in India, and the goals he has set for himself in Indonesia.

"It is similar in the sense that it is broadening cooperation in areas like clean energy, on economic growth, on counter-terrorism, on climate change," said Rhodes. "So it is a similarly broad agenda, and the point is when we are able to cooperate with these kind of emerging powers on those issues it greatly magnifies the kind of progress that we can make in different parts of the world."

Rhodes said Indonesia fits firmly into President Obama's focus on Asia, and on emerging powers and democracies as cornerstones of the strategic orientation of the United States in the 21st century.

The official says that as he did in India President Obama will speak in Indonesia about partnership, and the potential for economic development, and issues of democracy and diversity.

"Interfaith issues and pluralism, and Indonesia's place as the world's largest Muslim-majority country," he said. "I think the president will be able to speak to the positive example that Indonesia sets in that regard, as a country with a thriving Islamic community, but also a country that has a pluralistic tradition - Christians, Hindus and others."

President Obama also considers Indonesia an integral part of U.S. efforts to fully engage with regional organizations in Southeast and East Asia, such as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), and the G-20.

The G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea is President Obama's next destination after Indonesia, which is also a member of the organization. Indonesia will host the East Asian summit in Jakarta next year, a gathering Mr. Obama has committed to attending.

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