Camelia Pasandaran & Putri Prameshwari
The government on Friday said it had anticipated the postponement of US President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit this month, adding that deferring the trip served the best interests of both countries.
“President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has stressed that Mr. Obama should not come to Indonesia while his mind is still on the ongoing political struggle” over health care reform, presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said, adding that Yudhoyono himself had suggested that the visit be delayed.
“It is better for Mr. Obama to come to Indonesia in June so he can bring with him the first lady [Michelle Obama] and their daughters, because it will be the summer holiday by then,” Dino said.
The state visit, initially scheduled for Tuesday to Thursday, will be postponed to some time in June so Obama can focus on getting his landmark health reform bill through Congress.
“We prefer, as President Yudhoyono has indicated, that the visit be done without a sense of political rush, not when the health care reform bill is in front of him, so he can focus fully on the visit itself,” Dino said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said the postponement was something the government had anticipated. “We are not disappointed,” he said.
In an interview that was broadcast by RCTI, Obama said he was “just as disappointed as anyone else by the postponement.”
“The only reason we delayed this is because the most important domestic priority here in the US is going to be voted on over the weekend or early next week, and I have to be there,” he said.
Marty said the government would now focus on the state visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in April, during which Yudhoyono would initiate talks on strengthening the two countries’ strategic partnership.
By the end of the month, Marty will visit Burma, where a discussion on its upcoming elections will be part of his agenda.
“We hope Aung San Suu Kyi can participate in the election. She will contribute to the democratization process,” he said, adding that Indonesia would not accept any undemocratic action by Burma’s military junta.
Additional reporting by Antara