Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • Europe launches navigation satellites to rival GPS

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Iraqi Sunnis quit govt talks after mosque massacre

    Read more

  • US demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • Fed Chair says US job market still hampered by Great Recession

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Obama lands in Jakarta for much-delayed 'homecoming'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-09

After two cancelled trips, US President Barack Obama landed in Indonesia Tuesday for a visit aimed at reaching out to the Muslim world and strengthening bilateral ties. But a volcano ash threat could force Obama to cut short his visit.

AFP - US President Barack Obama finally made a much-delayed homecoming of sorts to Indonesia on Tuesday, seeking to engage Muslims and cement strategic relations on the second leg of his Asia tour.
   
Obama arrived in Jakarta under stormy skies on Air Force One from India, as his nine-day Asian odyssey took him from the world's largest democracy to its most populous Muslim-majority nation.
   
The president spent four years in Indonesia as a boy with his late mother, though he will have little time for tourism on the 24-hour visit in which he will attempt to renew his outreach to the Muslim world while courting new markets and business opportunities for US companies.
   
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that volcanic ash spewing from the mouth of Mount Merapi in central Java could force Obama to cut back the whirlwind trip even shorter.
   
"The modelling for the volcanic ash will likely necessitate that we leave Indonesia several hours earlier than the schedule had it laid out tomorrow," he said, adding however that a keynote speech scheduled for Wednesday would still take place.
   
Remembered by his old Indonesian schoolmates as a chubby boy called "Barry", Obama will hold talks and share an official dinner with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday, focusing on economic and security issues.
   
The next day, Obama is scheduled to visit the Istiqlal Mosque, Southeast Asia's largest, and leverage his popularity with an open-air speech to the Indonesia's 240 million people, some 200 million of whom are Muslim.
   
Security has been beefed up in a country that has fallen victim to a number of deadly terror attacks in recent years, with about 8,500 security personnel, including the military, deployed in strategic locations across Jakarta.
   
"'Barry' to Return Home," trumpeted The Jakarta Post newspaper, while the  Koran Tempo daily declared: "Finally He's Here."
   
US officials say that, just as with Obama's trip to India, his visit to Indonesia is designed to reinvigorate relations with an "inspiring" emerging democracy and an economy with a key role to play in the early 21st century.
   
Indonesia is Southeast Asia's biggest economy and is seen as a key strategic partner for the United States as it prepares for 21st-century challenges like the rise of China and the threat of radical Islamism.
   
"We've had this focus on Asia and on emerging powers and on democracies as kind of cornerstones of the kind of strategic orientation of the United States in the 21st century," Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes said.
   
"India fits firmly in that category and so does Indonesia."
   
Obama's speech on Wednesday has the twin aims of engaging Indonesians on their embrace of democracy and the free market following the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1999, and of renewing dialogue with Muslims opened at his landmark Cairo address last year.
   
An embarrassed Obama cancelled two previous attempts to visit Indonesia earlier this year, as domestic crises intervened, and his snatched day in the country where he lived for four years as a boy may disappoint his hosts.
   
Originally, Obama had planned to show his family fondly remembered haunts of his youth, but given his diminished political standing following mid-term elections a wallow in nostalgia abroad would be a political step too far.
   
For a few days this week, it seemed Obama's visit could be in doubt again, after Mount Merapi spewed ash high into the skies and raised fears that Air Force One would be unable to land in Jakarta.
   
But international flights to the city returned to normal on Tuesday, even as the volcano continued to belch debris and deadly gas some 430 kilometres (270 miles) to the east.
   
A total of 151 people have lost their lives since Merapi began its latest cycle of eruptions on October 26, and more than 300,000 have been forced to flee their homes.
   
Obama's speech will mark his most high profile chance for discourse on US relations with the Islamic world in a foreign country since his landmark speech to the world's Muslims in the Egyptian capital in June 2009.
   
But officials cautioned against the idea that Obama needed to renew his commitment for a "new beginning" with Islam, after a furore over plans to build an Islamic cultural centre near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.
   

Date created : 2010-11-09

COMMENT(S)