Clinton to visit Indonesia
Officials say US secretary of state will use visit to "reach out" to Muslim world.
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2009 10:55 GMT

Clinton aims to 'reach out' to the Muslim world as part of her visit to Indonesia [AFP]

Hillary Clinton, the new US secretary of state, is to visit Indonesia on her first overseas visit in the post, hoping to use the visit to "reach out" to the Muslim world, her spokesman has said.

Robert Wood, the US state department spokesman, told reporters in Washington on Thursday that Clinton views Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation as "an important country for the United States".

"The secretary feels it's important that we need to reach out and reach out early to Indonesia."

Wood said Clinton planned to hold talks with senior Indonesian officials in the capital Jakarta to discuss "the close and growing partnership with Indonesia and prospectives on common interests in Southeast Asia".

Her trip to Indonesia is scheduled for February 18, immediately after her visit to Japan and before travelling on to further stops in South Korea and China.

"The secretary [of state] feels it's important that we [the United States]need to reach out and reach out early to Indonesia."

Robert Wood, State Department spokesman

It will be her first overseas trip since taking on the role of secretary of state, with officials saying the tour will emphasise the importance of Asia in US foreign policy.

Wood gave few details about Clinton's discussions in Indonesia, but said the stops in all the countries would discuss "common approaches" to challenges like "the financial markets turmoil, humanitarian issues, security and climate change".

In his inauguration address on January 20, Barack Obama, the US president, vowed to seek a "new way forward" with Muslim majority countries, "based on mutual interest and respect," after eight years under what many view as controversial foreign policies formed under his predecessor, George Bush.

Obama himself has close personal ties to Indonesia, having spent several years at school in the country when his divorced mother remarried to an Indonesian.

In his memoirs he recalled his time in Indonesia as the "bounty of a young man's life."

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