Sun, 03 Sep 2000

President Abdurrahman to attend Millennium Summit

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid is scheduled on Monday morning to begin his fourth overseas trip of the year, to attend the United Nations-organized Millennium Summit in New York.

The President will go ahead with the trip despite a warning from the House of Representatives that he has already spent Rp 52.72 billion (US$5.85 million), or 98.64 percent, of his state- allocated travel budget for the year.

The director general of protocol and consular affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rachmat Ranudiwijaja, told journalists on Friday evening that during the planned nine-day trip, the President also was scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with at least 12 world leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"All of those planned meetings are at the request of the foreign leaders," Rachmat said.

Palace officials said they expected Annan to raise the issue of the prosecution of suspects in the mayhem in East Timor last year, the problem of East Timorese refugees in East Nusa Tenggara and the continued infiltration of pro-Indonesian militias into East Timor.

The President's first meeting after his arrival in New York will be with Australian Prime Minister John Howard. They will hold talks at the UN Regal Plaza Hotel on Tuesday. The latest situation in East Timor and bilateral issues are expected to be the main focus of the meeting.

Abdurrahman several times this year has revealed plans to visit Australia, but he has always changed his mind.

After his meeting with Howard, the President plans to hold bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yosihiro Mori. Japan is expected to host a meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia in October.

With Philippine President Joseph Estrada, Abdurrahman will discuss the latest developments in the investigation into the blast at the Philippines Embassy in Jakarta early last month.

Abdurrahman met with Annan, Howard and Mori in June.

"All of the meetings will be held during his five-day stay in New York, which will end on Friday," Rachmat said.

Before delivering a speech to the summit on Friday, the President plans to hold a press conference with the international media.

From New York, the President and his entourage will fly to Baltimore on Friday evening, where the President will have his eyes checked for a second time at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His first checkup at the hospital was in June.

Abdurrahman, whose sight is severely impaired, has undergone treatment on his eyes in Salt Lake City, Tokyo and Beijing. The doctors have said there has been no significant improvement in his sight, particularly in his left eye.

Apart from his sight, doctors have declared the President in perfect health, saying the strokes he suffered several years ago have not affected him. (prb)