SHANGHAI – Even as Indonesians demonstrate by the thousands, both the United States and Indonesia are playing down their public disagreements over U.S. strikes on Afghanistan.
A top U.S. State Department official, who attended Secretary of State Colin Powell's bilateral meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda on the eve of an economic summit in Shanghai, said statements coming out of that country were "better than we've heard a while."
The official was referring to calls from Indonesia's vice president for anti-American demonstrations there to stop. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim state and demonstrators are angry about American-led action against Afghanistan.
Hasan calmed nerves when he said that despite American fears of "sweeping" — militants going through hotels and resorts looking for Americans to kidnap — "not a single American has been victimized" in Indonesia during its protests.
Indonesia is opposed to wording of a communiqué to be announced at the end of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Sunday. Indonesia, and to a lesser degree, Malaysia were said to be opposed to any endorsement of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.
No specific mention of Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network, blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks, will be included in the broad statement against terrorism.
U.S. officials say they are very satisfied with the statement being drafted.
"By the standards of a 21-economy grouping, it's actually pretty good," said a senior State Department official.
The official said the communiqué’s wording did not come up in the bilateral meeting with Hasan and Powell, implying any problems had been resolved.
Hasan likewise said his country would be supporting the final statement.
Hasan also said he welcomed Powell's comments that the military attacks are only one aspect of the U.S. campaign against terrorism and that "he made clear the U.S. is sensitive to the feelings of the Islamic world."
Hasan said Indonesia had been unfairly singled out for criticism about weakening the joint statement. He said that was a "wrong impression" and that it was merely the "process of consensus" working in the organization.
He said Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and Russia all expressed their support for the United Nations taking a lead role in the investigation and targeting of terrorists.
Powell and Hasan discussed ways that Indonesia could channel its concerns for Afghan Muslims in constructive ways rather than merely attacking the United States. One suggestion was having Indonesia help out in food assistance.