U.S. President Barack Obama has praised Indonesia’s democracy and spirit of religious tolerance, saying the world’s most populous Muslim majority nation is an example to the world.In a major speech given in Jakarta, President Obama said Indonesia’s spirit of religious tolerance is one of the country’s defining characteristics. He said Indonesia and the United States share the value that there is strength in diversity.Mr. Obama said the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. He said the al-Qaida terrorist network and its affiliates have no claim to be leaders of Islam or any other religion. The president vowed to pursue peace in the Middle East, despite what he called “enormous obstacles.”
The president’s visit to Indonesia marks a return to the country where he spent four years of his childhood in the 1960s. President Obama said Wednesday, in Indonesian, that “Indonesia is a part of me.”Mr. Obama’s speech at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta revisited themes from last year’s speech in Cairo in which he called for mutual respect between the United States and the Muslim world.President Obama said Wednesday that relations between the United States and Muslim communities have frayed over many years. He said as president, he has made it a priority to begin to repair those relations.
Earlier Wednesday, President Obama visited Jakarta’s Istiqlal Mosque – the largest in Southeast Asia. After arriving in Jakarta Tuesday, President Obama and his Indonesian counterpart, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, announced a “comprehensive partnership” in trade, education, clean energy and security.Mr. Obama also said his thoughts and prayers are with Indonesians who are suffering from a tsunami and volcanic eruptions that have killed hundreds of people in recent weeks.Ongoing eruptions at Mount Merapi on Indonesia’s Java island have forced Mr. Obama to make plans to leave Jakarta several hours earlier than scheduled Wednesday.Mr. Obama is on a four-country Asia tour and he is now heading to South Korea and then Japan for back-to-back economic summits – Voanews