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SBY kicks off ASEAN tour

State visit: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (second left) and his wife Kristiani Herawati (right) are seated at a table for lunch with his Singapore counterpart Tony Tan (second right) and his wife Mary Chee Monday in Singapore. Yudhoyono will also receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore during his visit to the city-state. (AP/Wong Maye-E)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has departed to Singapore where he will begin his five-day state visit to three ASEAN nations.

The Garuda Indonesia Boeing B737-800 carrying the President, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and delegates took off from Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in East Jakarta on Monday morning.

Among Cabinet members accompanying the President were Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam.

“I will attend the Indonesia-Singapore annual Leaders’ Retreat in Singapore, then I will visit Myanmar to have a bilateral meeting with President U Thein Sein in Nya Pyi Taw,” Yudhoyono told a press conference before departing.

From Myanmar, Yudhoyono will fly to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, to attend the 22nd ASEAN Summit.

On the sidelines of the summit, Yudhoyono will also attend the 9th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit and the 7th Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Summit.

Yudhoyono said he would also receive an honorary doctorate from Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

In 2009, the NTU was put under the scrutiny of the Indonesian people following the death of the Indonesian student, David Hartanto Widjaja.

A Singaporean court declared David had committed suicide. His family believed it was not possible for David to intentionally end his life, saying he had displayed no signs of depression. The public outcry at that time pushed the Indonesian government to carry out decisive action to ensure Singapore would bring “justice and the truth.”

The visit to Myanmar, meanwhile, will come amid the long-time sectarian violence involving the Rohingya muslims.

“The conflict involving the Rohingya has always been in Indonesia’s attention. We will ensure that the democratization process in Myanmar is in place,” Yudhoyono said.

The President and delegates are scheduled to return to Indonesia on April 26.

Source: The Jakarta Post - www.thejakartapost.com