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Indonesian lawmaker fears diplomatic repercussion from postponed state visit to the Netherlands

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Indonesian lawmaker fears diplomatic repercussion from postponed state visit to the Netherlands

2010-10-06 10:49:35 GMT+7 (ICT)

JAKARTA / THE HAGUE (BNO NEWS) -- An Indonesian lawmaker fears that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's last-minute decision to postpone his state visit to the Netherlands could have diplomatic repercussions.

National Mandate Party (PAN) politician Teguh Juwarno told the Kompas newspaper that Yudhoyono had no reason to fear an arrest in the Netherlands. "The president holds a diplomatic passport and enjoys diplomatic immunity," Juwarno said. "Therefore, even if the Dutch court convicts him, he will be given diplomatic immunity and protected under the international convention."

Juwarno said he feared that the postponement could ignite a polemic in the international community, adding: "The president is feared to become a laughing stock."

Yudhoyono, however, said during a news conference that it was not unusual to have safety concerns when a head of state visits other countries, but not from a court. "What I can not accept is that when the President of the Republic of Indonesia visits the Netherlands at the invitation of the Queen of the Netherlands and also the Prime Minister of the Netherlands at a time when a court is to decide on, among other things, the arrest of the President of the Republic of Indonesia," the President said.

Yudhoyono, along with his wife Ani Bamban Yudhoyono, were scheduled to arrive at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on early Wednesday morning on a three-day state visit. The couple was later scheduled to meet Queen Beatrix, Princess Maxima, Prime Minister Jan Peter-Balkenende, and others.

"The last few days there has been a development in The Hague in which there is a lawsuit in court to question human rights problems in Indonesia and even asks the court to arrest the President of the Republic of Indonesia during a visit to the Netherlands," Yudhoyono added. According to him, Republic of South Maluku separatists are involved in filing the lawsuit.

The office of Yudhoyono said the President feared that the good relations with the Netherlands could suffer a setback if he went ahead with the state visit. It could also cause misunderstanding, it said.

"It concerns our pride and honor as a nation," Yudhoyono added. "Therefore, I decided to postpone this visit."

The Dutch government, in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, said it regrets Yudhoyono's decision to cancel the state visit. "The Dutch government has confirmed the immunity of the head of state and clarified the legal proceedings in the Netherlands," the statement said.

In response, Yudhoyono informed the Dutch government that he wants to schedule a new date for a state visit. "The government trusts on the continuation of the excellent and friendly mutual relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia," the statement added.

Juwarno is the PAN secretary in the country's House of Representatives. PAN currently is the fifth largest party in the country.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2010-10-06

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