Obama, who lived in Indonesia for four years as a child, started his visit by meeting with President Susilo BambangYudhoyono and an official dinner Tuesday night.
"It's wonderful to be able to come back as president and I hope to contribute to further understanding between the United States and Indonesia," Obama said in a televised news conference.
[. . .]
On Wednesday, Obama was to visit the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Indonesia. He is also to deliver a speech on U.S.-Indonesia relations and, at the University of Indonesia, discuss American outreach to Muslim communities around the world.
According to a 2009 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Indonesia is one of the few predominantly Muslim countries in the world -- Muslims are about 86 percent of the population -- where the image of the United States is largely positive.
The study found that 63 percent of Indonesians have a favorable opinion of the United States compared, for example, to 27 percent of Egyptians and 25 percent of Jordanians. Obama's approval ratings are even higher, with 71 percent of Indonesians expressing confidence that he will positively contribute to world affairs.
[. . .]
"This is a country with whom historically relations have been somewhat tender, sometimes adversarial. But in the last decade, as Indonesia has become -- has emerged as a democracy and under President Yudhoyono, they are playing a larger and more constructive role in regional and world affairs," said Jeff Bader, senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council.
Indonesia, which became a democracy in 1999 after decades of authoritarian rule, is a key player in Southeast Asia, although it still faces problems such as poverty, corruption, human rights violations. In 2011, Indonesia will take on the leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a political and economic organization of Southeast Asian countries.
Of course, Truther and teabaggers will use this visit to claim Obama's a secret Muslim, etc. Let's ignore them.