US WANTS INDONESIA AS SE ASIA LEADER

The remarkable rise of Indonesia’s new president has captured popular imagination at home and won praise internationally, but Joko “Jokowi” Widodo still needs to prove his foreign policy prowess.

US Secretary of State John Kerry attended the inauguration this week of Jokowi, whose personal story is symbolic of Indonesia’s own transition from autocracy to democratic rule. After he was sworn in, the leader of the world’s fourth-most populated country traveled to the presidential palace by horse and cart, underscoring his credentials as a champion of the poor.

The United States and other foreign governments will be willing Jokowi to do well. The 53-year-old, who previously served as governor of the congested capital, Jakarta, must make tough decisions, and soon, to boost economic growth in the sprawling, island nation of 250 million people. Washington will be hoping for a more welcoming climate for foreign investors.

Jokowi is poised to announce his Cabinet line-up, including the key position of foreign minister, amid lingering questions about the president’s own dearth of experience in foreign affairs, and whether his ambitious domestic agenda, facing hostile political opposition, will preoccupy him.

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