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Monday, November 8, 2010

Obama visit to proceed despite volcanic ash concerns

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Jakarta (RRI News – Djakarta News)- Obama will visit Jakarta as scheduled despite concern that volcanic ashes from Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta could dash the plan, a spokesman for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said.
Yudhoyono`s special aide for international affairs, Teuku Faizasyah made the statement here Monday in response to reports that seven international airlines on Sunday (Nov 7) cancelled their flights to Jakarta`s Soekarno-Hatta international airport citing concern that volcanic ashes from Mt Merapi could endanger aircraft engines. "We haven`t heard any news about Obama`s visit being canceled. Therefore, preparations for his arrivel in Jakarta are still on," Teuku Faizasyah said here on Monday.

During his two-day visit in Jakarta, Obama is scheduled to meet with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, witness the signing of an Indonesia-US Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (CPA), visit Istiqlal mosque in Central Jakarta and give general lecture at the Univeristy of Indonesia.

A total of 10.232 police personnel will be deployed to secure Obama`s visit in Jakarta. President Obama`s visit to Indonesia will be part of his 10-day Asian tour and takes place after he has been to India and before he goes to South Korea for the G-20 summit and Japan for an APEC meeting.

A White House official said that US President Barack Obama`s visit to Asia would underscore his Asia strategy of renewed engagement.
US engagement in Asia is "founded upon our core alliances in the region, and of course South Korea and Japan are at the top of that list," Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, told reporters at a briefing on the visit. He said the visit to Indonesia was meant to "deepen partnership with emerging powers," adding that Obama would deliver a speech there on his outreach effort to the Muslim world on Nov. 10.

Due to a variety of reasons, Obama had postponed visits to Indonesia three times, which had somewhat angered the Southeast Asian country which construed it as a sign of "lack of respect." In September, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not attend a summit between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in New York, citing "domestic reasons."
Even so , Rhodes stressed Indonesia`s importance to the US as the largest Muslim-majority country and the biggest economy in ASEAN, saying it was the intersection of a lot of key American interests. "We see this as a partnership that is very important to the future of American interests in Asia and the world," he said.
Obama`s visit to Indonesia and the speech he plans to deliver there were designed to continue his efforts to improve America`s tarnished image in the Muslim world.ant.elf


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