18 Feb 2009

Is Hillary just the warm-up act?

WASHINGTON DC, USA – Hillary Clinton has landed in Jakarta and she says it’s no accident that it is one of the countries she is visiting on her very first trip abroad as US Sec of State. She specifically mentioned the fact that Pres Obama lived in Indonesia as a child.

Which will increase speculation about why Clinton is there at all.
The other countries on this trip – Japan, South Korea and China – have far more obvious relevance to the US economic and diplomatic agenda. So why is she in Jakarta?

There is a lot of chatter among the Washington press corps about whether the president may soon follow. He has promised to make a speech in a Muslim capital within his first 100 days as president.

But the White House hasn’t given out any clues as to where that might be. My money has been on Jakarta for some time ($50 in fact – a bet with my colleagues in the Washington bureau).

Any Middle Eastern capital brings obvious controversy. And the Obama administration is determined to take a tougher line with Pakistan that Bush did, so that probably rules out Islamabad.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and Obama’s childhood roots would give him a good excuse to choose Jakarta.  Everyone there will be watching Clinton very closely to see if she is really just the warm-up act.

Channel 4 is not responsible for the content of external websites.