Yudhoyono to visit Singapore on Feb 15

INDONESIAN President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will make a state visit to Singapore on Feb 15.

This was disclosed yesterday following a meeting between Dr Yudhoyono and Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan, who is in Indonesia on a three-day visit.

Presidential aide Dino Pati Djalal told The Straits Times: ‘The President’s trip to Singapore on Feb 15 is to highlight the special relationship between the two countries.’

He said Dr Yudhoyono was very appreciative of Singapore’s relief efforts in Aceh after the province was hit by the tsunami disaster on Dec 26.

‘Singapore was one of the first countries that came to our assistance and took the lead in organising the tsunami summit,’ he added.

After his 30-minute meeting with the Indonesian leader, Dr Tan told reporters that Dr Yudhoyono had expressed his thanks and gratitude to Singapore for its assistance and its efforts for the reconstruction of the battered region. The DPM disclosed that Singapore had offered to build a 150-bed hospital in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

He noted the needs in the hardest-hit town of Meulaboh. Singapore would be building a school there and a barge pier to help the transportation of goods. Dr Tan, who visited Aceh on Monday, noted that civilian agencies and NGOs would now play a bigger role in the rehabilitation efforts.

The SAF and the Singapore Civil Defence Force sent home some 700 personnel last month, leaving about 50 officers who are mostly in charge of operating the three Chinook helicopters that remain.

Their initial efforts helped pave the way for more than 30 humanitarian organisations from around the world to take over operations in Meulaboh.

Dr Tan said Jakarta was currently drawing up a master plan for Aceh’s reconstruction that would be ready in two to three weeks’ time.

Dr Yudhoyono would brief Singapore’s leaders on any further help that might be needed when he travels to the Republic during his introductory visit that all new Asean leaders make, he said.

Malaysia will be his first stop on Feb 14 in an itinerary that palace aides said could stretch over four months and take him to the Asean countries, China, Japan, Australia, Europe and the United States.

Dr Tan, who is also Coordinating Minister for Security and Defence, said Dr Yudhoyono also touched on bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism and ways to strengthen bilateral economic ties.

The DPM yesterday also met Indonesia’s security czar Widodo A.S., Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono and Parliamentary Speaker Agung Laksono.

Today, he is scheduled to meet Vice President Jusuf Kalla, intelligence chief Syamsir Siregar and national police commander Dai Bachtiar before leaving for Singapore.

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