Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Barack Obama in Indonesia: the real itinerary

Barack Obama will arrive in Indonesia on Tuesday for a three-day visit, returning to the country where he lived for four years as a boy.

There's been lots of bluster spewed forth about the trip by foreign correspondents, foreign policy experts, hard-line Islamists, school children and others.

For those more interested in the cold, hard facts, this is what Obama will actually be doing in Indonesia, according to a White House press briefing given late on Monday:

Tuesday March 23 - Jakarta

  • Arrival ceremony in Jakarta and "several events associated with that arrival ceremony".

  • Meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

  • Joint press conference with Obama and Yudhoyono.

  • State dinner in the evening.

Wednesday March 24 - Jakarta

  • Keynote speech by Obama looking at US partnership with Indonesia, Obama's personal connections to Indonesia and relations with the Muslim world following on from his big speech in Cairo last year.

  • Undisclosed "cultural stops".

  • Meetings with business leaders.

  • Meetings with Indonesian parliamentary leaders as part of drive to "reach out and speak to a broad cross-section of Indonesia’s government and society".

Thursday March 25 - Bali

  • Obama will host a "civil society event"  where he will "meet with a group of civil society leaders in order to highlight the important role of civil society in the emergence of Indonesia’s democracy".

  • He'll also meet civil society groups from elsewhere in Southeast Asia "to discuss issues related to political participation, freedom of information, and human rights".

  • Departure for Canberra.

Although there's been much speculation that Obama may visit his old school in the Jakarta suburb of Menteng, his press secretary Robert Gibbs said on Friday that the President was not planning to revisit the school or his old house.

"Even under the old itinerary, the President was not scheduled to stop at the house that he spent time in when he lived in Indonesia nor was he scheduled to go to the school that he attended," Gibbs said.

So the little kids at Obama's old school that have been practicing their best traditional dance routines to show the US President may well be disappointed. Unless, that is, this is all a cunning ploy by the Secret Service to throw potential terrorists off the scent.

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