President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono landed in Liberia as the first stop on his eight-day African and Middle Eastern trip to address economic and multilateral diplomatic missions.
The Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-300 carrying Yudhoyono, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and a number of Cabinet members touched down at Roberts International Airport in the Liberian capital of Monrovia at 8 a.m. on Thursday local time (3 p.m. Jakarta time), according to the President’s official website.
The President was welcomed by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Indonesian Ambassador to Liberia Sudirman Haseng.
Yudhoyono will cochair the third meeting of the UN High Level Panel (HLP) on the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Liberian capital. Yudhoyono and Johnson, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron, have been appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to cochair the panel.
“We are still deliberating the best framework or format after the MDGs expire in 2015. It could be a MDGs-plus, with additional targets, or others configurations. The options are still open and I cannot disclose it right now. Most importantly, we want the new framework to be more effective than the current MDGs,” Yudhoyono said in a press conference at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport, East Jakarta prior to his departure on Wednesday.
“Indonesia has an interest in this forum. Indonesia is to recommend ways to end poverty throughout the globe,” he added.
While his attendance of the panel’s meeting carried a symbolic weight as his first diplomatic mission this year, the greater portion of Yudhoyono’s trip will be utilized to seek new economic partnerships.
After a two-day stay in Monrovia, the delegation will fly to Abuja, Nigeria, for a state visit. Yudhoyono said he would utilize his bilateral meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to seek new economic opportunities.
“Besides South Africa, Nigeria is also an important country in Africa. Hence, it has good prospects for new cooperation. The Nigerian president has visited Indonesia once, so my visit will also serve as a reciprocation of that visit,” Yudhoyono said.
From Nigeria, Yudhoyono will then fly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a working visit. He and his wife will also make a minor pilgrimage to Mecca and Madina.
The government will set up business meetings in both in Abuja and Jeddah that will feature top businesspeople in both countries.
“Indonesia has become one of the greatest investment destinations in the world. We want more real cooperation, particularly with the Middle-East,” Yudhoyono said.
Yudhoyono plans to conclude his trip by attending the 12th Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo, Egypt on Feb. 6, despite unrest in some Egyptian cities.
“So far, the summit’s organizer insists to stay on schedule. I am ready to attend the meeting with a hope that the situation will be calm,” Yudhoyono said, adding that he will address a session on Palestine.
“This is linked to our national interest as we have to continuously promoted Palestine’s independence,” he added.
Presidential spokesman for foreign affairs Teuku Faizasyah added that Yudhoyono deemed the OIC summit to be very important because it would discuss a number of crucial issues in the Islamic world, such as the conflicts in Syria and Mali.
Yudhoyono’s delegation on his eight-day tour includes Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, Industry Minister MS Hidayat and Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya. Yudhoyono and his delegation are expected to return to Indonesia on Feb. 7.