The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo put a hold on traditional formalities in welcoming a visiting head of state during the inaugural visit of his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, to Indonesia on Friday.
Instead of welcoming Duterte with a grandiose ceremony, Jokowi took the Philippine president to Pasar Tanah Abang, Southeast Asia’s largest textile market in Central Jakarta, in a blusukan (impromptu visit).
Wearing white shirts, Jokowi and Duterte walked among kiosks at the Tanah Abang Market after they arrived separately at about 2 p.m. Accompanied by several Cabinet ministers, including Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, the two leaders visited several stalls at the market for about half an hour.
Upon their arrival, Enggartiasto told reporters that it was important to introduce the market to Duterte, since the pasar is popularly known as a textile hub among the countries in the region.
"That’s why we invited him: Because he [Duterte] is a type of person who wants to see something closely related to the people," Enggartiasto said. He added that Jokowi also invited Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to participate in one of his trademark blusukan when the latter visited Jakarta in November last year.
Hundreds of local people and market visitors packed areas visited by Jokowi and Duterte. Jokowi shook hands with several visitors who attempted to reach and take photos with him. Duterte smiled when he witnessed the people's enthusiasm over their visit.
Presidential Press Bureau chief Bey Machmudin said Jokowi’s blusukan was part of the President’s efforts to expand his diplomacy, ensuring that it takes place beyond discussion tables.
Indonesia is the first country Duterte has visited since he was inaugurated as the Philippine president on June 30. Earlier, Jokowi and Duterte met during the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos, from Sept.6 to 8. (ebf)
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