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Thursday, February 09, 2006

British PM to visit Indonesia

JAKARTA, Feb. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair is slated to visit Indonesia in March, making him the first British leader to travel here since Margaret Thatcher in 1985, an Indonesian official has said.

"It is scheduled for Prime Minister Blair to visit the country next month. However, we haven't accepted any official agenda for the visit," presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal was quoted Thursday by The Jakarta Post as saying.

He could not specify the exact date, saying only that preparations for the visit as well as for the issues to be discussed were still being coordinated by the related ministries.

Although the agenda of the state visit is still tentative, several Presidential Palace sources said it was likely to include discussion of counterterrorism efforts as well as cooperation in investment and trade.

According to the sources, the visit will probably take place on March 29-30, before Blair continues on a trip to Australia.

British Embassy press official Edith Loupatty said the embassy could not make a statement yet about the visit.

Blair's visit may be tied to his country's effort to cooperate more closely with strategic and influential Muslim nations like Indonesia in combating terrorism, an issue that has affected both countries in recent months.

London was rocked by deadly coordinated terrorist attacks during morning rush hour on July 7 last year, with 52 people killed and more than 700 injured.

Three months later, Indonesians were shocked by the second terrorist attack on the resort island of Bali, which claimed 23 lives.

Relations between the two countries are also marked by long-standing economic activities. Annual British investment in Indonesia consistently ranks in the top five.

Based on data from the Investment Coordinating Board, investment approvals for British companies last year totaled 1.52 billion U.S. dollars, the second largest amount after Singapore

The Jakarta Post

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