Back to the battle: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaks at a news conference Thursday night on board a Garuda Indonesia flight returning from the G20 Summit in London, as First Lady Ani Yudhoyono (right) looks on. The President arrived back in Indonesia on Friday and immediately headed to Surabaya, East Java, to campaign for his Democratic Party a week ahead of the legislative elections. Courtesy of Presidential Office/Abror Rizki
US President Barack Obama plans to visit Indonesia this year, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced.
“When I told Obama that the people of Indonesia were awaiting his visit, he said he planned to do so this year,” SBY was quoted by Antara news agency as saying during a flight from London to Surabaya, East Java, on Thursday night.
He said Obama unveiled the plan for an Indonesian visit while the two leaders were seated next to each other at a working breakfast during the G20 summit in London on Thursday morning (local time).
SBY could not say when Obama would arrive in Jakarta.
However, Yudhoyono was quoted by his presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal as saying in February that the President was hoping Obama could make the visit before the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore scheduled for November this year.
If Obama’s plan is realized, the US president would meet his former elementary school friends in Jakarta, where he lived for four years during his childhood.
At one point during the G20 summit, Obama had surprisingly tapped SBY on the shoulder and asked, “Feeling tired?”
“Then I said, ‘No, I am OK.’ He still remembers a lot of Indonesian words, such as apa kabar for how are you, and capek for feeling tired.”
When speaking at the working breakfast about Indonesia’s views toward the global financial downturn, the President spoke in Indonesian.
In his introduction, SBY said he hoped Obama could understand him.
“Obama then laughed and said he had to learn to speak Indonesian again.”
The US president was a good listener and was able to approach anyone, SBY said.
“I saw that Obama continued to listen attentively to everybody, and hopefully it will be a new chapter for the United States to see our common views.”
Last month, Obama called the President to express Washington’s willingness to involve Jakarta in tackling global issues, including the environment and the financial crisis.
The US president also told Yu-dhoyono in the 10-minute phone conversation that he wanted to build “a comprehensive partnership” between the two countries, according to Dino.
The phone conversation followed the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Jakarta in February.
During Clinton’s visit, SBY invited Obama to visit Indonesia.
Obama also thanked Indonesia for the “warm” and “friendly” welcome it had extended to Clinton during the two-day trip.
“President Obama said he wanted to work with Indonesia in coping with global issues, such as climate change,” Dino told reporters.