Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bush may visit Indonesia in November

JAKARTA (AP): U.S. President George W. Bush may visit Indonesia next month to meet the leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation, seen as a close ally in Washington's global fight against terrorism, officials said Tuesday.

If the talks are held, they would be the first on Indonesian soil between Bush and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The White House would not confirm the meeting, but Indonesia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Desra Percaya said Bush hoped to make the visit after attending the Nov. 18-19 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. "But the actual date and confirmation are still being discussed," Percaya said.

Washington is keen to engage Indonesia because the secular nation has more Muslims than any other country - about 190 million - and is seen as a voice of moderation in the Islamic world. A series of deadly attacks by Islamic militants since 2000, followed by hundreds of arrests, also makes it a major battleground in the Bush-proclaimed war on terror.

Bush last visited Indonesia in 2003, meeting with then-President Megawati Soekarnoputri on the resort island of Bali a year after it was targeted by al-Qaida-linked militants. The Oct. 12, 2002 suicide bombings at two crowded nightclubs killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists. Indonesia's government desperately needs foreign investment, but being seen as too close to Washington carries the risk of a backlash by conservative Muslims and clerics, who like many Indonesians are upset over the war in Iraq and U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Might I suggest President Bush, having the meeting in Bali or Manado. At least then precautions can be taken against the Islamofascist militants that terrorize this nation. In Manado you would be most welcome by the pro-West Christians. I'm sure the Minahasa people of Manado would look forward to the chance to catch some Islamic militants trying to disturb the proceedings. You might even see the militants on display the next day at the market right beside the cooked dog, bat and other animals.

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