Written By Shafeek Ahmad, Published On 13-November-2023.
Washington, D.C. — U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to engage in discussions with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the White House this Monday, focusing on gaining insights into the Muslim world’s perspectives on the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Widodo’s visit aims to strengthen diplomatic ties, elevating them to a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” the highest diplomatic ranking. However, the leaders differ significantly in their stances on the Gaza conflict, with Biden staunchly supporting Israel and Widodo calling for an immediate cease-fire, backing a United Nations commission investigating alleged war crimes by both sides since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.
Fresh from an emergency summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Riyadh, Widodo is set to convey the summit’s resolutions to Biden. The OIC, comprising 57 mostly Muslim-majority states, rejected Israel’s justification for actions in Gaza, demanding an end to the war and advocating for arms sales suspension to Israel and increased humanitarian aid access.
A senior administration official stated that Biden would carefully listen to Widodo’s perspectives, taking into account his recent discussions in Saudi Arabia and engagements with other Middle Eastern leaders.
Despite the immediate divergence on a cease-fire, the U.S. seeks common ground with Indonesia, given its influential role as the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. With 87% of its population being Muslim, Indonesia holds significant sway in the medium- and long-term resolution of the conflict, aligning with the U.S. vision of just peace and a two-state solution.
Indonesia’s historical support for Palestinians, including aid initiatives like a hospital in northern Gaza, adds weight to its role in the conflict resolution. The hospital, impacted by Israeli airstrikes, highlights the urgent need for humanitarian aid.
Widodo’s delicate balancing act involves representing OIC sentiments, addressing domestic anti-Israel and anti-U.S. sentiments, and safeguarding common interests with the U.S., including a critical minerals deal. Indonesia seeks a limited free trade agreement with the U.S. to include nickel exports, crucial for the U.S. electric vehicle manufacturing under the Inflation Reduction Act.
The Biden administration is cautious about Indonesia’s reliance on Chinese investments in its mining industry and insists on adherence to high labor and environmental standards in any critical minerals partnership.
The leaders will announce a “work plan” for critical minerals, despite pushback from some U.S. mining industry quarters concerned about potential funding going to Chinese companies.
Beyond the Gaza conflict, Biden and Widodo will elevate diplomatic ties to a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” aligning with Jakarta’s existing status with Beijing. Indonesia, under Widodo, has embraced China’s Belt and Road Initiative, attracting significant Chinese investment.
While Jakarta benefits from Chinese investments, it remains wary of China’s assertive claims in the South China Sea, leading to strengthened military ties with the U.S. The discussions will also cover the crisis in Myanmar, where the junta’s actions since February 2021 have faced condemnation from Indonesia and other Southeast Asian nations.
Widodo’s itinerary includes the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, offering an opportunity for Biden to gather regional perspectives on China.
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Disclaimer:- This news article was written by the help of syndicated feed, Some of the content and drafting are made by the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) ChatGPT.
About the author: Shafeek Ahmad is a freelance writer passionate about business and entrepreneurship. He covers a wide range of topics related to the corporate world and startups. You can find more of his work on Howtobeaspoonie.com.