Obama Is Coming to Bali

LEGIAN
The Bali Times

PRESIDENT Barack Obama and his family will visit Bali during their trip to Indonesia later this month, sidestepping a previously planned drop-in on the Central Java city of Yogyakarta and the nearby Borobudur temple.

The change of plan was reportedly due to security concerns, and came as a blow to politicians and tourism officials in Central Java who had been hoping that the high-profile visit would raise their province’s international profile, but has been welcomed in Bali.

Officials said that although there had been no confirmation of the US President’s itinerary, security plans were already being put into action and a large number of troops put on standby ahead of the visit.

“We haven’t gotten official information about when Obama will visit or where he will stay but we are ready to back up the military and protect Obama’s routes, his accommodation and the places he might visit,” said I Gede Sugianyar Dwi Putra of Bali Police.

Sugianyar added that security would be the primary concern throughout Obama’s stay in Bali, and said that a successful operation would show the world that Bali could deal with security issues.

“If we can conduct the security well, then in the future our tourism promotion for Bali will be much better than before as a result,” he said.

Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport will likely be briefly closed to scheduled flights to allow for the high-security arrival.

“Before Air Force One lands we will close the airport for 30 minutes,” Heru Legowo said on Monday, adding that he did not yet have a confirmed date for the presidential visit, but that it was expected between March 20 and March 25.

Obama and first lady Michelle last visited Bali when he was writing his memoir, Dreams from My Father. The New York Times reported that the sojourn was to remove distractions from the budding author and politician.

“His half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said he eventually retreated to Bali for several months with his wife, Michelle, ‘to find a peaceful sanctuary where there were no phones,’” the newspaper said.

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