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Jakarta Post

US-Indonesia council ready to offer advice on tolerance, pluralism

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Fri, August 12, 2016   /  02:09 pm
US-Indonesia council ready to offer advice on tolerance, pluralism For pluralism and tolerance: United States-Indonesia Society (USINDO) president David Merrill speaks at an event recently. (usindo.org/-)

The US-Indonesia Society (USINDO) has formed a council that will continue to offer advice on tolerance and pluralism to the governments of the two countries, even after President Barack Obama and Joko “Jokowi” Widodo have both left office.

"We intend this council to be sustained for a long time," USINDO president David Merrill told journalists after the closing ceremony of a two-day conference in Yogyakarta on Thursday.

The conference was the council’s first after it was established by Jokowi and President Obama in October 2015. During Jokowi’s visit to the US that year, both presidents agreed that there should be a council established to expand US-Indonesia relations into a strategic partnership.   

"This civil society council is independent and has no government official," Merrill said.

He further said the two presidents were the initiators of the establishment of the council. They believed that in order to expand their relations into a strategic partnership, Indonesia and the US needed civil society support outside of government alone. 

The conference yielded three agreements. Both countries agreed to increase religious understanding, mutual respect and collaboration, to identify and foster positive civic and religious models that promote analytical thinking and respect and to empower civil society groups to deter violent extremism.

The conference also appointed Yenny Wahid from Indonesia and Jihad Turk from the US as co-chairs of the council.

Twelve members of a senior advisory board, six from Indonesia and six from the US, were also selected in the meeting. The council set up an executive board of 20 people, comprising 10 experts from the US and 10 from Indonesia, including Jakarta Post editor-in-chief Endy Bayuni. (ebf)

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