Obama visit ‘opens doors
for RI’

While preparation for the visit of US President Barack Obama is underway a month before he lands in Jakarta, analysts have urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to use the momentum to get assurances the US can help Indonesia, especially in the field of research and technology.

Experts agreed Indonesia should use Obama’s tenure in office to get support in a number of international negotiations to achieve the country’s objectives, including issues related to Muslim communities, UN reform and the establishment of a new global financial architecture.

American affairs expert Bara Hasibuan said the strategic partnership agreement between the two countries to be signed during Obama’s visit in March cover a wide range of sectors and should allow Indonesia to become a center of excellence for research, especially in health and drugs, in the Southeast Asian region.

“Of course, we automatically hope there will be an increase in trade and investment relations. What we need is a transfer of technology and scientific research that give us a boost. It’s one of the most concrete benefits we can get,” he said Sunday.

He said the US should be able to help Indonesia establish high technology laboratories to allow for mutual cooperation, especially in health sciences.

“I think we should be able to get a new agreement on science and technology agreement beyond Namru [Naval Medical Research Unit]. We should be able to groom our own scientists and achievements from the relations,” he said.

Earlier, University of Indonesia international relations expert Hariyadi Wirawan said Obama’s tenure was a great opportunity for Indonesia to increase relations.

“We can’t afford to lose the momentum when Obama leaves office,” he said.

Hariyadi underlined that what Indonesia needed was full support from the US on many international issues, saying the world’s largest economy should include the world’s biggest Muslim country in key international negotiations.

He said considering the importance of the ties, both countries should put aside small differences to achieve bigger common goals that could be useful not only to the both sides but also to the wider world.

“Issues such as Namru or access to Hambali can’t become obstacles,” he said.

Obama and his family will visit Jakarta in March to launch a comprehensive partnership with Indonesia, and make a “sentimental” return to his childhood home.  

Presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said Obama would spend more than one day in Jakarta.

Obama spent four years in Jakarta as a child when his mother Ann Dunham married Indonesian student Lolo Soetoro, whom she met in Hawaii.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the visit reflected “current expectations” in relations with Washington.

“This is about developing a comprehensive partnership between the US and Indonesia in all areas,” he said.

The comprehensive partnership will cover a range of areas, including education, science and technology, trade and investment.

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