Obama Stops In Indonesia

Could Leave Early Due to Volcanic Ash

By the CNN Wire Staff
November 9, 2010

Obama and Yudhoyono

President Obama met with Indonesia's President Yudhoyono at the APEC summit

Jakarta, Indonesia — Obama visited Indonesia on the second leg of his Asian trip amid the volcanic ash clouds produced by Mount Merapi. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who earlier told reporters that officials were closely monitoring the problem, said forecasts show air traffic might again be disrupted.

At the news conference, Obama said his administration hopes to expand ties with Indonesia on three different levels: trade, political and security cooperation, and mutual challenges, such as educational initiatives and tackling climate change.

“I believe that our two nations have only begun to forge the cooperation that’s possible,” Obama said.

The American president also addressed regional and world issues, such as the Middle East, China, Myanmar, and his administration’s outreach efforts to the Muslim world.

He denounced the recent elections in Myanmar, saying they were neither free nor fair. The president also said all political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, should be released from captivity in Myanmar — the country also known as Burma.

Last year, Obama announced an ambitious outreach program to the Muslim world in a speech in Cairo, Egypt, and was asked how he assesses that effort. He called his administration’s initiative “earnest” and “sustained,” but said it’s an “incomplete project” with more work required. Obama said the idea is to build bridges and expand interactions so the relationship isn’t focused solely on security issues.

As for China, which has emerged as a major world power and an economic powerhouse, Obama said, “we want China to succeed and prosper” and the United States isn’t interested in impeding that process.

“First of all, from a humanitarian point of view, [China] lifts millions of people out of poverty, which is a good thing. It’s also a huge expanding market for America to sell goods and services,” he said. “We want China to continue to achieve its development goals. But we want to make sure everybody is operating within an international framework and sets of rules where countries recognize their responsibilities to each other.”

On Wednesday, the president will leave for South Korea, where he will attend the G-20 summit in Seoul. The U.S. president will leave South Korea for Japan on Thursday.

The president’s Asia tour is part of an administration focus on a vital region for expanding trade and fighting terrorism, said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, ahead of the trip.

“If you look at the trend lines in the 21st century, the rise of Asia, the rise of individual countries within Asia, is one of the defining stories of our time,” Rhodes said, later adding, “We see core U.S. national interests that will be advanced by us playing a key role in helping to shape the future of the region and making clear that we’re an Asian and a Pacific power.”

Obama will head back to the United States on Sunday.

Article by the CNN Wire Staff >>

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