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Hillary Clinton reaches out to Indonesia

In foreign policy, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, news, Politics on February 18, 2009 at 5:46 pm

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, accompanied by her Indonesian counterpart, Hassan Wirajuda, in Jakarta on Wednesday.

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Hillary’s message was warmly received by the country’s officials.

She said her choice of Asia for her first overseas trip as President Barack Obama’s top diplomat was “no accident” and a sign of the new administration’s desire for broader and deeper relations with the continent on regional and global issues. Indonesia and southeast Asia often felt overlooked by the George W Bush administration.

With President Barack Obama wishing to “reach out to the entire world”, Mrs Clinton said Indonesia would be an important partner in that effort.

“Certainly Indonesia, being the largest Muslim nation in the world, the third-largest democracy, will play a leading role in the promotion of that shared future,” she said.

Mrs Clinton, who arrived from a stop in Japan praised the country for its multi-ethnic democracy and efforts to fight terrorism while respecting human rights. Today [thurs] she heads to South Korea and then China.

Indonesia has powerful personal ties for President Barack Obama, who spent four years in Jakarta as a child. Among those who turned out at the airport to welcome Mrs Clinton were 44 children from his former primary school, singing traditional folk songs and waving Indonesian and US flags.

“It gave him an insight into not only this diverse and vibrant culture, but also the capacity for people with different backgrounds to live harmoniously together,” said Mrs Clinton.

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Indonesian students wave to journalists upon her arrival at Halim Perdanakusuma airport in Jakarta, Indonesia on Feb. 18, 2009. Clinton moved to boost U.S. ties with the world’s most populous Muslim nation and its neighbors, pledging a new American willingness to work with and listen to Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Tatan Syuflana-AP

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