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Yudhoyono and Obama Raise US-Indonesia Partnership to New Level

Indonesia and the United States vowed on Sunday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore to enhance collaboration between the two nations in a wide range of fields.

Speaking at a news conference with US President Barack Obama, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said both countries had renewed their commitment to expand relations into a comprehensive partnership. “I welcome also future cooperation between Indonesia and the United States in various fields such as trade and investment, education and technology, climate change, food and energy security, countering communicable diseases and also fighting terrorism and people-to-people contact.”

Obama said the partnership agreement with Indonesia would also include clean energy initiatives and expanding the Peace Corps’ presence in Indonesia. “These are all areas in which we intend to focus in the months and years to come,” he said.

The two heads of state were in Singapore for the APEC forum, at which leaders agreed to pursue a new economic model promoting “growth which is balanced, inclusive and sustainable, supported by innovation and a knowledge-based economy, to ensure a durable recovery that will create jobs and benefit our people.”

Obama, who spent several years in Indonesia as a child, had been scheduled to visit Indonesia during this tour of Asia, but the trip was postponed to next year to give time for both nations to prepare significant agreements.

One of Indonesia’s major trading partners, the United States has hailed Indonesia for its smooth transition to democracy and active role in fighting terrorism.

Yudhoyono, who said Obama was “a friend of Indonesia” and well-respected here, hailed the new US approach he has employed in dealing with international issues, “including his positive outreach to the Islamic world.”

Obama, for his part, hailed Indonesia’s progress in developing its democracy. “[Indonesia] has enormous influence and really is, I think, a potential model for the kind of development strategies, democracy strategies, as well as interfaith strategies, that are going to be so important moving forward,” he said.

Yudhoyono also met Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva early on Sunday morning and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in the afternoon.

The state Antara news agency reported issues discussed related to recent high-profile border disputes between Thailand and Cambodia. But presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal denied the meetings aimed to find solutions. “The [Cambodia] meeting was just a common bilateral meeting. There was no cooperation agreed,” he said.

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