America

Biden Strengthens Ties With Indonesia Despite Tensions Over the War in Gaza

President Biden and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia will announce on Monday a new strategic partnership, though their differences over the war in Gaza are likely to shape the Indonesian leader’s visit to Washington.

Mr. Widodo, whose country is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, arrives in Washington after attending a summit in Saudi Arabia where he condemned the war in Gaza and blamed Israel for an attack on the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. American intelligence agencies say they have high confidence the blast was caused by a Palestinian rocket. Mr. Widodo is the first Islamic world leader to visit the White House since the war began.

A senior administration official who previewed the call for reporters on Sunday evening said that Indonesia’s view on the war “is very important in how we think about our own next steps,” and that Mr. Biden would “listen carefully” to Mr. Widodo during their meeting. John Kirby, a White House spokesman, told reporters last week that the president would “make it clear that the United States stands with Israel.”

Mr. Biden’s advisers are hoping that diplomatic comity can withstand tensions over Gaza, and they emphasized on Sunday that Mr. Widodo would be treated to an Oval Office meeting before joining a larger group of officials in the Cabinet Room for high tea. And cementing a new strategic partnership with Indonesia bolsters the president’s efforts to draw countries in the Indo-Pacific closer to the United States as concerns grow over China’s aggression in the region.

The announcement, which comes two days before Mr. Biden is scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping of China at a highly choreographed summit in San Francisco, places the United States on the same diplomatic footing as Beijing, which announced a comprehensive relationship with Jakarta in 2013. The new pact is seen by Mr. Biden and his advisers as evidence that concern over China has made leaders in the region more interested in partnering with the United States than they once were.

The two leaders are expected to discuss a plan for an agreement on critical minerals and semiconductors and to discuss climate issues, including carbon capture and storage, the electricity grid and air quality. (When Mr. Biden traveled to Indonesia for the Group of 20 summit a year ago, Mr. Widodo gave both the president and reporters a tour of a mangrove farm in Bali, and touted their ability to clear the air and combat climate change.)

The two will also discuss security cooperation, including on cybersecurity, and a new initiative for a satellite program at Georgetown University, the first American university to open a campus in Indonesia.

Peter Baker contributed reporting.

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