Clinton arrives in Indonesia on reconciliation mission

February 18th, 2009 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaJakarta, Feb 18 (DPA) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Indonesia Wednesday on a visit intended to demonstrate US determination to mend ties with the Islamic world.
Security has been heightened in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, with armed soldiers and police on alert on major streets and at the Foreign Ministry building, where she was to meet her Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda.

The US is Indonesia’s second biggest export destination but Jakarta has been critical of some US policies under President Barack Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, especially his decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Clinton’s stop in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, could be the prelude to a visit by Obama, who as a child went to school in Jakarta after her mother married an Indonesian man.

Many Indonesians are proud of Obama’s Indonesian connection and hope that it would serve as an impetus for closer ties between the two nations.

“I think Indonesia is among the countries celebrating his victory most joyfully,” Hariyadi Wiryawan, an international relations lecturer at the University of Indonesia, said in remarks published in Wednesday’s edition of The Jakarta Post.

“This should be translated into something practical. How can we bridge the cultural divide between Islam and the West; between the US and Muslim countries. Indonesia can be a starting point that should not be ignored,” he said.

Jakarta is Clinton’s second stop after Japan. She will also travel to South Korea and China in her first foreign tour since she became secretary of state.

Clinton agreed with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone during the three-day visit in Tokyo to apply pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme and work to prevent further nuclear proliferation.

The top US diplomat also discussed the importance of the world’s two largest economies to take the initiative in recovering from the global financial crisis.

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