National

SBY arrives in New York

Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-300 carrying President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and delegates touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, the US on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. local time.

The President was greeted by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Indonesian Ambassador to the US Dino Patti Djalal and Indonesia's permanent representative to the United Nations, Desra Percaya. Marty arrived in the US on Sept. 19.

The President's first task is to meet with US businesspeople at an investor's forum at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

The main purpose of Yudhoyono's visit to the American metropolis is to attend the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters. The President will join other head of states, including US President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to deliver speeches after the opening of the General Debates session on Tuesday.

Yudhoyono will then join British Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to lead the first meeting of the UN High Panel on the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Apart from that, the President will also hold bilateral meetings with a number of significant figures, such as newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The President is also scheduled to gather with Indonesians in New York and receive three international awards. One of the awards is the 21st Century Economic Achievement Award to be presented by the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC). The award will be bestowed on Sept. 24 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York.

The plane carrying Yudhoyono left Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusuma Airport on Saturday and made stopovers in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and Paris, France, for refuelling.

University of Indonesia's (UI) foreign affairs expert, Hikmahanto Juwana, said Yudhoyono should utilize his forthcoming visit to New York to settle issues relating to the fallout of the online circulation of an anti-Islam movie. "The fact that the US closed their embassy and consulates in Indonesia has given the impression that Indonesia is not safe. The President must put this straight because it could have a negative impact on our economy, especially in tourism," Hikmahanto said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

"The recent protests across Indonesia condemned the film, Innocence of Muslims, which was made by a US citizen. What has the US done to arrest the filmmaker? Yudhoyono could discuss this with US officials during his state visit to New York," he added.

Hikmahanto said he disagreed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who suggested that the filmmaker's actions did not reflect the stance of the US as a state. "It is not easy for the public to accept such an assertion. The only way for the US to make Indonesians agree with Hillary is by arresting the filmmakers as well as the actors," Hikmahanto said.

Hikmahanto said that Western states "should not try to cloak themselves in freedom of expression and opinion when it comes to blaspheming against Islam".

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