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Foreign leaders follow Howard's lead to Jakarta JAKARTA - Foreign dignitaries yesterday rushed to Indonesia for this morning's inauguration of the new president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, after Prime Minister John Howard announced he would go. Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister, Suwat Lippapanlop, and Vietnam's Foreign Minister, Nguyen Dy Nien, joined foreign leaders and dignitaries from six other countries who have announced they will attend the ceremony. In the past, only ambassadors and local dignitaries have attended.
Asian embassies, in particular, have scrambled in recent days to send appropriately senior guests for Dr Yudhoyono's inauguration, after news emerged last Thursday that the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Howard, would join Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi at the event. Since Mr Howard's decision, foreign leaders and dignitaries from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, East Timor, Brunei and the Netherlands, have made quick plans to attend.
Indonesia's parliament and Ministry of Foreign Affairs both say heads of government and heads of state were not invited to today's ceremony but that foreign guests would be welcome. Mr Howard yesterday denied a report in The Age that he had invited himself. "That stuff in the paper this morning was ridiculous," he said. "The Indonesians made it plain that they would welcome the attendance of heads of government, ambassadors or special envoys, and I thought it was appropriate that I go."
A spokeswoman from the Australian embassy said Mr Howard's decision was made after the chief of protocol in the foreign ministry advised ambassador David Ritchie that Indonesia would "welcome the attendance by the head of government or head of state". That advice was received on October 13, some hours before Mr Howard rang Dr Yudhoyono and told him he would attend, she said. The spokeswoman could not say if Mr Ritchie had contacted the chief of protocol to ask permission for Mr Howard to attend.
Edy Wardoyo, the secretary for Indonesia's chief of protocol, said that while foreign guests would be welcome "there has been no invitation either from the Government or the Parliament to attend the inauguration. "It would not be possible that the chief of protocol of the foreign ministry invites a head of state," he said. "Such an invitation should come from the President or the Parliament."



Posted in Elections @ 19 October 2004 00:05 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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