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Indonesians React to Postponement of Obama's Trip With Disappointment, Support

A man holds a banner depicting US President Barack Obama during a pro-Obama rally in Jakarta, 19 Mar 2010

Indonesians are reacting with disappointment and support to news that President Obama has postponed his visit there to focus on health-care legislation at home.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Tristram Perry says hundreds of Indonesians used the embassy's Facebook page and Twitter account to react to news that President Barack Obama has postponed his visit here.

"There is a lot of buzz in the blogosphere and new media. A lot of people are very supportive. It is surprisingly positive, people saying, 'OK, we are waiting for the visit,'" said Tristram Perry.

While most comments on the embassy Facebook page on Friday are supportive, a number of people expressed disappointment. One person said, "America is annoying."

President Obama had been scheduled to meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He also was to deliver a speech stressing Indonesia's economic importance and its role as the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation in battling Islamist extremism.

Last week the president delayed his trip to Indonesia and Australia by a few days to concentrate on passing health-care legislation in the United States. Further delays in Congress in bringing the bill to a vote forced Mr. Obama to postpone the trip again, this time until June.

Indonesian presidential advisor Dino Patti Djalal says Mr. Yudhoyono conveyed a message to Mr. Obama before the postponement was announced, expressing understanding of the situation.

He says President Yudhoyono asked President Obama not to come to Jakarta while his mind is still in Washington, where there is an unfinished political struggle going on.

Political analyst Wimar Witoelar says while most people understand the cause for the delay, the U.S. needs to offer reassurance that the relationship with Indonesia is a priority.

"It's just like you miss a date with someone you care about, but you make it up by making phone calls, by sending things, and by preparing the best conditions for the day when the meeting becomes," said Witoelar.

President Obama told an Indonesian news organization that by waiting until June he will not be rushed and will be able to show his family the country where he lived for four years as a child.