Going All-Out

With a pat on the back from George Bush, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono jetted off to Tokyo this week to drum up investment and cement a trade deal.

The trip was significant on a number of fronts, key among them Japan’s decision to open up to foreign labor and accept Indonesian workers, such as nurses, and the burning bush that is North Korea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe naturally wants Indonesia – whose founding president Sukarno was on good terms with current North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s father – to use its influence in Pyongyang and try to persuade the secretive state to abandon its nuclear program.

President Yudhoyono canceled a trip to North Korea earlier this year after it test-fired a nuclear device, but would be wise not to sit on the fence during this lingering crisis and go. Merely dispatching an envoy, as he has done, is not enough.

Meanwhile, all this is a sign of Indonesia’s growing clout on the international stage, coming at a time when the country is moving forward with reforms and battling the ills, like endemic corruption, that for so long have bedeviled it.

After President Bush lauded Indonesia as shining example of a modern, moderate Muslim-majority nation during a brief visit last week, President Yudhoyono is going all-out to maintain the momentum and return Indonesia to its former glory.

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