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Jakarta Post

Obama treats Jokowi at White House with charm

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Washington DC   /   Wed, October 28, 2015   /  06:25 pm

Monday'€™s bilateral meeting between President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo and United States President Barack Obama was productive and conducted in an atmosphere of '€œfriendly ambiance'€, said Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi.

Retno revealed that Obama opened the bilateral meeting by offering his condolences to Jokowi over the loss of Jokowi'€™s maternal grandmother, Sani Wirorejo, who passed away last week just before Jokowi left for Washington.

Following the one-hour meeting in the Oval Office at Monday noon, the two leaders addressed a joint press conference.

Obama opened his statement by recalling some his childhood experiences living in Indonesia, noting that he had relatives who were Indonesians and that he therefore took a '€œvery personal interest in Indonesia'€.

'€œBut, what is also true is that our partnership is very much in the interests of the US, given Indonesia'€™s large population, its leadership in the region, its democratic tradition, a fact that it is a large Muslim country with a tradition of tolerance and moderation, and its role in trade and commerce and its economic development. The US has a great interest in being a partner with Indonesia,'€ Obama said.

When Jokowi ended his statement by thanking Obama with '€œterima kasih'€, Obama also replied with '€œterima kasih'€ and then later dismissed the press by saying '€œthank you, everybody'€.

Retno also revealed that there was an interesting scene between President Obama and Jokowi that was '€œunlike President Obama'€™s habit.'€ Instead of returning immediately to the schedule of the day, Obama took Jokowi for a short walk near the Rose Garden in the White House compound and then invited him to an area near Obama'€™s official residence.

Later, Obama took Jokowi to his private hallway connecting his residence and the oval office, before Jokowi finally left the White House to continue his tour of the United States.

According to Retno, such '€œinteresting'€ treatment had never before been displayed to other world leaders.

'€œThis is interesting because it shows Obama'€™s closeness with Indonesia,'€ Retno said later that day.

The two leaders welcomed the strategic partnership between the two countries, with Jokowi applauding the '€œthe enhancement of the bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and the US'€.

The two countries have cooperated in a comprehensive partnership since 2010.

During the joint press briefing, Jokowi also revealed Jakarta'€™s intention to join the Trans Pacific Partnership and invited the US to work closely in the area of digital industry with Indonesia, estimated to become the biggest digital market in South East Asia in 2020.

The leaders also discussed climate change and have agreed to work together to address it. '€œIndonesia confronts big challenges. The peatland fires and the efforts to extinguish them are quite challenging,'€ said Jokowi.

On Monday evening during a dinner hosted by the US chamber of commerce, Jokowi cracked a joke while making a speech in front of a number of executives from US companies, executives Jokowi referred to as '€œold friends.'€

'€œDear old friends, we meet this week during challenging times. There is a lot of volatility in the markets. But a very wise man once said '€˜be careful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are careful'€™. As the President of the Republic of Indonesia, I can'€™t tell you to be greedy. I will let my trade minister do that for me,'€ Jokowi said.

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