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Obama's terrific traveling toast tour of Asia -- No. 2, Indonesia

November 9, 2010 |  4:08 pm

Democrat US president Barack Obama's toast with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Jakarta 11-9-10

 It's good to be president.

Two days. Two countries. Two state dinners. Two toasts. President Obama on Tuesday revisited his partial childhood homeland of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation. 

Tonight's presidential toast with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was seven minutes long. That's three minutes longer than last night's in those gorgeous Indian gardens. And tonight's was indoors, due to a driving all-day rainstorm that didn't stop some anti-Obama protesters (See photo).

Wednesday Obama is to give a university speech and visit the largest mosque in Southeast Asia.

The American president profusely thanked his banquet hosts for a....

...medal honoring his mother. He reminisced briefly about his childhood days there, expressing applauded appreciation for some favorite Indonesian dishes served at the banquet -- nasi goring, emping and kerupuk.

And he stressed the counter-intuitive notion that such seemingly diverse countries were actually very similar in several ways.

Next stop: South Korea.

- Andrew Malcolm

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State Dinner Toast by President Obama, Jakarta, as provided by the White House

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  President Yudhoyono, Mrs. Yudhoyono, to all the distinguished guests who are here today, thank you for this extraordinary honor. I am proud and humbled to accept this award on behalf of my mother. And although she could not be here in person, I know that my sister Maya Soetoro would be equally proud.
Now, I’m going to have the opportunity to speak tomorrow and so I will try to keep my remarks brief.  First of all, thank you for the bakso. (Laughter.)  The nasi goring.  (Applause.)  The emping.  (Laughter.)  The kerupuk.  (Laughter.)  Semuanya enak. (Laughter.) Thank you very much.  (Applause.) 
But the fact, Mr. President, that you would choose to recognize my mother in this way speaks to the bonds that she forged over many years with the people of this magnificent country. And in honoring her, you honor the spirit that led her to travel into villages throughout the country, often on the back of motorcycles, because that was the only way to get into some of these villages.

She believed that we all share common aspirations -- to live in dignity and security, to get an education, to provide for our families, to give our children a better future, to leave the world better than we found it.

She also believed, by the way, in the importance of educating girls and empowering women, because she understood that when we provide education to young women, when we honor and respect women, that we are in fact developing the entire country. Indonesian protesters take to the streets against the visit by US Democrat president Barack Obama 11-9-10

That’s what kept bringing my mother back to this country for so many years. That’s the lesson that she passed on to me and that’s the lesson that Michelle and I try to pass on to our daughters. 
So on behalf of our entire family, we thank you. I am deeply moved. It is this same largeness of heart that compels us tonight to keep in our thoughts and prayers all those who are suffering from the eruptions and the tsunami and the earthquake.  With so many in need tonight, that’s one more reason for me to keep my remarks short.
As a young boy in Menteng Dalam 40 years ago, I could never imagine that I would one day be hosted here at Istana Negara -- never mind as President of the United States. I didn’t think I would be stepping into this building ever.  (Laughter and applause.)>p>  And I know that much has been made about how a young boy could move between such different countries and cultures as Indonesia and the United States.

But the truth is, is that our two countries have far more in common than most people realize. We are two peoples who broke free from colonial rule.  We are both two vast nations that stretch thousands of miles. We are both two societies that find strength in our diversity. 

And we are two democracies where power resides in the people.  And so it’s only natural that we should be partners in the world.
I am fortunate to have a very strong partner in President Yudhoyono -- Indonesia’s first directly elected president, and a leader who has guided this nation through its journey into democracy.  And our two nations are fortunate that we are forging a partnership for the 21st century. And as we go forward, I’m reminded of a proverb:  bagai aur dengan tebing -- like bamboo and the river bank, we rely on each other. 
And so I would like to propose a toast. In the spirit of friendship between our two countries, we are reminded of the truth that no nation is an island, not even when you’re made up of thousands of islands. We all rely on each other together, like bamboo and the river bank. And like my mother riding between villages on a motorcycle, we are all stronger and safer when we see our common humanity in each other.
So President Yudhoyono, and to all the distinguished who are here, thank you for your extraordinary friendship and the warmth with which you have received Michelle and myself. And I promise that it won’t take so long before I come back.    ####

Related Item:

Obama packs away the exotica at India state dinner

Photo: Abror Rizki / EPA (Obama toasts with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono); Barbara Walton / EPA.