Indonesia President Urges Stronger US Action in Gaza During Talks with President Biden

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In a diplomatic meeting at the White House on Monday, Indonesia President Joko Widodo pressed United States President Joe Biden to take more decisive actions in Gaza, urging a ceasefire to halt the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The leaders engaged in discussions ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, where a significant portion of their talks revolved around the persisting conflict that has endured for over a month.


Widodo, representing the world’s most populous Muslim country, attended a joint summit of Arab and Muslim leaders in Riyadh over the weekend. During the summit, leaders rejected the notion of Israel’s actions as “self-defense” and called for a “decisive and binding resolution” from the United Nations Security Council.


The Indonesian President emphasized the need for the US to “do more to stop the atrocities in Gaza,” stressing the humanitarian imperative of achieving a ceasefire. Despite Washington’s historically strong support for Israel, recent statements suggest a shift in tone, with calls for greater restraint and “pauses” in the fighting to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and ensure the safe passage of hospital-bound Palestinians.


US officials have expressed a desire for Indonesia to play a larger role in West Asia, not only addressing the immediate ceasefire concerns but also contributing to long-term goals such as a two-state solution and the reconstruction of Gaza after the conflict.


While Indonesia maintains its long-held neutrality, Widodo highlighted the country’s openness to cooperation with any nation, prioritizing peace and humanity. The US aims to elevate its collaboration with Indonesia to a comprehensive strategic partnership, marking a new era in bilateral relations, as President Biden articulated during the meeting.


Beyond the Israel-Hamas conflict, the leaders addressed the deepening crisis in Myanmar, where the military seized power in February 2021, leading to intensified conflict with opposition groups. Despite Western sanctions, ASEAN’s efforts to hold the military accountable have seen limited success.


The discussion between Biden and Widodo also covered cybersecurity, space exploration, and climate initiatives. The US is expected to announce joint efforts with Indonesia on carbon capture and storage, supporting the electricity grid, and improving air quality. In a tweet, President Biden underscored the collaborative efforts between the two countries in combating the climate crisis, promoting economic prosperity, and fostering regional peace as they approach the 75th year of diplomatic relations.


The Washington-Jakarta meeting serves as a precursor to talks in San Francisco between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as a pivotal summit of APEC leaders. Indonesia, as a member of APEC, plays a crucial role in these diplomatic engagements.

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