Obama to Visit Indonesia in 2010, Wants to Bring First Lady, Daughters to "Old Haunting Grounds"

SINGAPORE - After meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President Obama said he accepted an invitation to visit the world's most populous Muslim nation next year.

"I am very excited about our prospects for deepening relations in the future, and I want to make sure everybody knows that I intend to be visiting Indonesia next year," Obama said at the Shangri-La Hotel here, where he conducted a one-on-one meeting with Yudhoyono on the sidelines of the APEC summit here.

"The invitation that's been extended...is one I want to take up," Obama said. "And I am hoping to take Michelle and the girls as well so that they can take a look at some of my old haunting grounds."

Obama noted his "historic ties to Indonesia" and said he was "extraordinarily impressed with the progress that Indonesia has made in developing its democracy."

Obama lived in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta from 1967 to 1971. His half-sister, Maya Soetoro Ng, was born there.

"As one of the world's largest Islamic nations, it has enormous influence and really is, I think, a potential model for the kind of development strategies, democracy strategies, as well as interfaith strategies that are going to be so important moving forward."

Yudhoyono called Obama "a friend of Indonesia," adding he knows the nation of 230 million people spread over 17,508 islands (about 6,000 of these are inhabited), "very well and is well respected." Yudhoyono also called Obama's "positive outreach to the Islamic world" refreshing.

The Indonesia president said he expects relations with the US to achieve a "higher level for comprehensive partnerships on trade, investment, education, climate change, energy and counter-terrorism.