Indonesia’s Widodo asks Biden to help end Gaza ‘atrocities’

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WASHINGTON – Indonesian President Joko Widodo pressed US President Joe Biden during a visit to the White House on Monday to do more to end “atrocities” in Gaza and help bring about a ceasefire.

The Israel-Hamas war overshadowed the talks, which had been meant to showcase an upgrade in ties between Indonesia and the United States ahead of Mr Biden’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.

“Indonesia appeals to the US to do more to stop the atrocities in Gaza,” Mr Widodo, the leader of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, said as the two presidents met in front of a roaring fire.

“Ceasefire is a must for the sake of humanity.”

The Indonesian President had said on Sunday that he would bring Mr Biden a “very strong message” from a joint summit of Arab and Muslim leaders in Riyadh at the weekend which condemned Israel and called for a ceasefire.

Mr Widodo had also said he would “deliver a specific message from President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine, who asked me to convey it to President Biden”, regarding the war.

But Mr Biden stayed focused on plans to upgrade cooperation with Indonesia to the highest level, a so-called comprehensive strategic partnership.

Washington has been trying to build alliances in the Asia-Pacific region as China becomes an increasingly assertive presence.

“This will mark a new era of relations between the United States and Indonesia across the board, affecting everything,” Mr Biden said, reading from a card.

The leaders would also discuss cooperation on critical minerals for electric vehicle batteries and other clean energy technologies, of which Indonesia has large reserves, he added.

After talks in the Oval Office, the two leaders were due to have tea in the White House Cabinet Room, accompanied by their aides.

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