Mon, 17 Oct 1994

U.S.-Indonesia Society inaugurated in gala style

By Abdullah Balbed

WASHINGTON D.C. (JP): The United States-Indonesia Society was officially inaugurated on Thursday evening with a reception at the Mayflower Hotel.

Approximately 400 guests turned up at the reception, including U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, who was the guest of honor, and Winston Lord, the U.S. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Indonesia's ambassador to the United States Arifin Siregar.

Former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia Edward Masters who is the president of the society spoke at the beginning of the reception to explain the aims of the organization.

He stressed Indonesia's importance to the United States and that it is time for the U.S. to better understand Indonesia.

Secretary Brown in his brief remarks acknowledged that it is time for the U.S. to pay more attention to Indonesia.

Brown mentioned that he and U.S. President Bill Clinton are looking forward to visiting Indonesia in November for the meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

The Department of Commerce is giving a very high priority to Indonesia because of its dynamic economic growth, he added.

Earlier in the day, the Board of Trustees of the society convened its first meeting attended by Emil Salim (former Indonesian state minister of population and the environment) and Paul Wolfowitz (the former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia and undersecretary of defense in the Bush administration). Emil and Wolfowitz jointly chair the board.

Also attending were the other members of the board, including Moh. Sadli (Indonesia's former minister of mines), Hasnan Habib (former Indonesian ambassador to the U.S.). Former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz sits on the honorary board of advisers.


The United States-Indonesia Society was formed in February 1994 as a private and nonprofit organization after a group of Indonesians and Americans with first-hand experience in both countries became concerned by what seemed to be growing problems in the bilateral relationship and a lack of knowledge in the United States about Indonesia's culture, history, popular aspirations and governmental system.

The group which is convinced that sound U.S.-Indonesia ties are of growing importance in today's complex world, felt the need for an organization to focus on this relationship and help foster better understanding of Indonesia in the United States and the relationship between the two countries.

In an interview, Ambassador Arifin warmly welcomed the society.

Through the continuous efforts of the embassy, Indonesia has become better known, particularly among American officials, congressmen and senators, the business community and the educated circles, Arifin said.

To reach the general public, however, a lot more work needs to be done and the ambassador expressed his confidence that the society will be of great help to achieving this goal.

The results will be that the American general public will learn more and gain a better understanding about Indonesia, not only in the fields of government and economy, but also in other fields such as culture and the social life of its people.