US VP in Indonesia sends conciliatory message to Islamic world


US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday said the his government seeks "win-win" trade relations with Indonesia.

Pence arrived in Jakarta late on Wednesday from Japan where he reassured Tokyo of a USA commitment to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions.

Vice President Mike Pence announced 11 major deals valued at more than $10 billion between US and Indonesian companies, mostly in energy and defense.

"His goal really is to reassure Australia of the closeness of the relationship, the value that the United States puts on this relationship, and that this is something the new administration intends to work on going forward".

Pence's Muslim outreach in Indonesia, where 90 percent of the 255 million inhabitants are followers of the faith, has been welcomed locally but it is unlikely to be enough to assuage fears that the Trump administration is anti-Islam. On Thursday, Pence toured the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Southeast Asia's largest, and said Indonesia's moderate form of Islam should serve as an example to other nations.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, has itself been hit by a series of deadly attacks over the past 15 years, led by militants affiliated with al Qaeda and more recently by Islamic State.

Pence said in a statement after meeting the secretary general of Asean that Trump would attend the US-Asean summit and the East Asia summit in the Philippines, as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vietnam.

Yenny felt she needed to explain to Vice President Pence about Jakarta election because foreign media had made reports on how moderate Muslims were losing Jakarta election against their radical counterparts.

Washington had billed Pence's visit to Jakarta as a booster for a strategic partnership between the world's second- and third-largest democracies, but a raft of bilateral disputes with US companies could sap the goodwill from his trip.

In the midst of such sentiments, it's understandable that Vice President Mike Pence faced a bit of an uphill PR battle as he embarked on his first trip through southeast Asia.

United States firms have faced a tough business climate in Indonesia, with companies like Google and mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc. getting embroiled in disputes with authorities there.

Japanese officials are indicating Tokyo intends to pursue the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact despite the US withdrawal from the agreement.

"Next month, there will be a team that will discuss management of bilateral trade and investment based on a win-win principle", said Jokowi standing alongside Pence at the joint press conference after their talks.