PM Abe shortens RI visit
due to hostage crisis in

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will shorten his visit in Indonesia and plans to return to Japan immediately after his bilateral meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Merdeka Palace on Friday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene confirmed the Japanese leader's decision to return to his home country only hours after his arrival in Jakarta.

Michael refused to disclose the reason behind the decision. According to media reports, however, it was linked to the ongoing hostage crisis in Algeria where Japanese nationals are reportedly among the victims.

The Japanese delegation arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma military base in East Jakarta on Friday morning. A few hours later, Abe was at the Palace for a state welcoming ceremony. As of 4 p.m., Abe and Yudhoyono were still in the middle of bilateral talks at the Palace.

A member of the Presidential Security Force (Paspampres) told The Jakarta Post that the motorcade carrying the Japanese delegation would head back to Halim shortly after the meeting at the Palace ended.

Staff officials at the Palace were also repacking musical instruments and other equipment at the State Palace that were supposed to be used for a state banquet hosted by Yudhoyono in honor of his Japanese guests.

"The state dinner has been canceled," an official said.

Abe was also supposed to give a policy speech on closer relations with Southeast Asia, which had also been canceled.

Abe’s visit to Indonesia was part of his first overseas trip since his inauguration last month. Abe’s Southeast Asia tour was aimed at bolstering ties with the growing Asian economies as relations with Beijing remain tense due to the ongoing territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

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