Obama Indonesia Trip ‘Still On’

WASHINGTON ~ US President Barack Obama still wants to visit his old hometown of Jakarta, perhaps later in the year, despite the twin blasts at two luxury hotels in the city, the White House said this week.

“I have no reason to believe that the events of the past few days have changed or lessened the president’s desire” to visit Indonesia, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Obama spent a few years as a child living in Jakarta from 1967 to 1971 after his mother remarried to an Indonesian national.

He told reporters in June: “Oh, I need to come to Indonesia soon. I expect to be travelling to Asia at some point within the next year and I would be surprised if when I came to Asia I did not stop by my old hometown of Jakarta.

“And I’ll go visit Menteng Dalam and have some bakso (and) nasi goreng. These are some special dishes here that I used to eat when I was a kid.”

Gibbs said Obama’s upcoming itinerary would be discussed in meetings at the White House this week.

However, the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to be held in Singapore in November could provide an opportunity for a stopover in Indonesia.

Gibbs stressed the special importance that Indonesia holds for Obama, saying: “Obviously it is a country with the largest number of Muslims in the world, important to him from that standpoint as well as personal.”

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