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SINGAPORE, April 7, 2010 (AFP) – The United States is not in
competition with China for Asian hearts and minds, a senior US
official said in remarks published Wednesday, but is keen to deepen
ties with Indonesia.
President Barack Obama has twice delayed trips to Southeast
Asia’s biggest economy but the US will not lose ground to China in
the region, Kurt Campbell told the Singapore-based Straits Times.
“We do not see this as a zero sum competition for hearts and
minds with China,” said Campbell, the assistant secretary of state
for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
“Indeed, most countries in Southeast Asia would clearly
articulate that desire to avoid this kind of narrow competition
between the two states.”
President Barack Obama’s administration has made Indonesia one
of its top diplomatic priorities, pointing to its moderate brand of
Islam and rapid democratisation since the 1990s.
But the US leader was forced to postpone his March trip —
already delayed once — until June to push through his ambitious
health care reform agenda from Washington.
“We’d like very much to see a profoundly deeper relationship
between the US and Indonesia that perhaps would fall along the kind
of progression we’ve seen between the US and India that began about
a decade ago,” Campbell said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is due to visit Indonesia in April,
fuelling speculation about a race for influence between Washington
and Beijing in Southeast Asia.
Indonesia has a population of more than 230 million people and
is seen as a key potential market and trading partner for both
powers.
The US president spent part of his childhood in Indonesia in the
late 1960s, an experience he has said helped shape his view of the
world.

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