Asia-Pacific

Barack Obama in Indonesia for trade and democracy talks

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Media captionMichelle and Barack Obama arrive in Jakarta

US President Barack Obama has arrived in Jakarta for a brief visit to Indonesia, set to focus on trade and support for democratic progress.

He is also expected to use the visit to reach out to the Muslim world, with a visit to South East Asia's largest mosque - the Istiqlal.

This visit to the world's most populous Muslim nation is the latest stop on his 10-day Asian tour.

Mr Obama is also revisiting a country where he spent four years as a boy.

However, the White House says the president will probably have to cut short his visit by a few hours because of concerns over volcanic ash from Mount Merapi which could disrupt flights.

The US president is expected to praise the economic growth and democratic progress in Indonesia in his meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The pair are also likely to sign a "comprehensive partnership" pact they agreed a year ago, taking in issues of trade, security, education, investment and climate change.

Changed mood

Mr Obama's speechwriter and deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said: "We've had this focus on Asia and on emerging powers and on democracies as kind of cornerstones of the kind of strategic orientation of the United States in the 21st Century.

"India fits firmly in that category and so does Indonesia."

Image caption A street artist in a Jakarta store displays a picture welcoming Mr Obama

Security will be a key issue, with Mr Obama sure to encourage the Indonesian administration to maintain a strong policy of tackling Islamist militancy.

Indonesia suffered one of the deadliest insurgent attacks, when 202 people were killed by bombs on the resort island of Bali in October 2002.

US officials have played down Mr Obama's speech at the Istiqlal Mosque.

But analysts say this will be his most high-profile address to the Muslim world since the Cairo speech.

Islamic affairs analyst Roger Hardy says that speech was well received, with its offer of "a new beginning" based on "mutual interest and mutual respect".

But since then, he says, the mood has changed.

Recent polls show that, in key parts of the Muslim world, Mr Obama's credibility has slumped, and this may be a chance to return to some of the themes he set out in Cairo.

Image caption Indonesia is trying to recover from two natural disasters

Mr Obama has twice postponed this visit because of domestic problems.

He is also visiting at a time when Indonesia is trying to recover from two natural disasters - the eruption of Mt Merapi, which has killed more than 130 people, and the tsunami that struck the Mentawai islands, killing more than 400 people and forcing thousands into emergency shelters.

The trip will provide little time for nostalgia in a country where he spent four years as a boy with his late mother, attending schools in Jakarta between the ages of six and 10.

Mr Obama remains popular in the country but may have to wait until next year's East Asia summit for any Indonesian leisure time.

Mr Obama spent three days on his first stop, India, signing $10bn (£6.2bn) in new trade deals and backing India's ambition for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

After Indonesia, Mr Obama will visit South Korea and Japan.

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