Barack Obama photo

Remarks Prior to a Meeting With President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo of Indonesia in Beijing, China

November 10, 2014

President Obama. Well, it is a pleasure to meet President Widodo. I want to congratulate him on an inspiring election. And as many of you know, I have a very close association with Indonesia, having spent a good deal of my childhood there.

I think that in watching President Widodo's election, it is once again an affirmation of the full transition that Indonesia has made to a thriving democracy and a model for the kind of tolerance and pluralism that we want to see all around the world.

I know that President Widodo has a very ambitious reform agenda, and my main message here today is that the United States wants to be a strong partner with Indonesia in helping achieve its goals.

As part of our comprehensive partnership, we've already worked on a wide range of issues—economic, development, security, people-to-people exchanges, environmental cooperation—and I look forward to discussing how we can build on that momentum, perhaps even with a visit by President Widodo in Washington next year.

I also want to thank Indonesia for the leadership regionally, as well as internationally, that it has shown on a number of issues. As a leader in ASEAN, Indonesia has been a driving force around the work that we've done on disaster assistance, on education, on scientific and technical exchanges, as well as issues of maritime security. And both our countries agree that it's important for us to maintain international norms that ensure freedom of navigation and that all countries are treated fairly and equitably.

And finally, as one of the world's largest democracies and also as one of the world's largest Islamic populations, Indonesia has played an extraordinary role in promoting pluralism and respect for religious diversity. And I want to thank Indonesia in the work that it's done to isolate extremism and to work with other countries around counterterrorism efforts.

So, Mr. President, I very much appreciate the opportunity to meet with you. I hope that we can develop not only a strong personal friendship, but can continue to build the strong friendship between our two peoples.

President Widodo. I would like to thank Your Excellency, and this will be the first time that I meet President Obama. And I would like to also thank you—thank the special envoy, the Secretary of State, John Kerry, for his visit to my Inauguration ceremony.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and has just conducted its Presidential election, a cause for democratic celebration in our country. And it shows that Islam and democracy can go along together.

In regards to extremism and radicalism, we have an experience of more than 50 years, and we will continue to fight this extremism and radicalism, and not only by a security approach, but also by a cultural approach and also a religious approach.

With regards to the stability—the security and stability in the region, we will continue cooperation among countries in responding to security issues in the region. President Obama. Thank you very much, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:46 a.m. at the Westin Beijing Chaoyang hotel. President Widodo spoke in Bahasa Indonesia, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Barack Obama, Remarks Prior to a Meeting With President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo of Indonesia in Beijing, China Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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