Mon, 23 Oct 2000

President Abdurrahman meets Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid and former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew met for 45 minutes during a stopover to the island-state late Saturday night, conferring on various bilateral issues including plans to hold a meeting of the President's international advisors.

There was scant detail of the closed meeting as it was off- limits to the media but AP quoted a Singapore foreign affairs ministry statement which said the two discussed bilateral and regional issues, including the Indonesian leader's plan to call a January meeting of his International Advisory Panel.

Abdurrahman has invited a number of international figures, such as Lee and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, to be part of a team of his personal advisors.

The President stopped in Singapore on his way back from attending the Asia-Europe Summit Meeting in Seoul. On his way to South Korea Abdurrahman stopped over in Malaysia to meet with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The President and his entourage arrived in Jakarta at about 11:35 p.m.

Indonesian foreign minister Alwi Shihab when asked by journalists said he could not elaborate much as he was not directly involved in the discussions.

"I don't know because I was talking to my counterpart, the Singapore foreign minister," Alwi remarked.

"I was not involved in the discussions between the two leaders".

Nevertheless, Shihab remarked that there was a possibility that the closed discussions included the Soeharto case.

On the visit to South Korea, which included bilateral meetings with several world leaders, Alwi said much of the meetings focused on ways to forge closer relations with the respective countries and how to help Indonesia recover from its economic problems.

Alwi noted that during the meeting with China's Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, Abdurrahman called on Chinese businessmen to work with their Indonesian counterparts on the prospect of exporting chopsticks to China.

The President said that such an enterprise held promise as almost all of China's population of over 1 billion use chopsticks.

Abdurrahman also reportedly asked for a special quota for Indonesian palm oil exports to China.