JAKARTA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The first visit of the newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rhodam Clinton to Indonesia is a "harbinger for closer and higher levels of engagement and cooperation between Indonesia and the U.S.", an Indonesian expert on international relations said Tuesday.
Jusuf Wanandi, senior fellow of the Indonesia's Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), wrote an article in Tuesday's Jakarta Post to welcome Mr. Clinton's week-long four-nation visit.
He said Indonesia is "a decent democracy", with stabilized economy and a military that "has been placed back in the barracks".
"Having the largest Muslim community in the world, ... Indonesia will be an important model for Muslims in the world, if they are able to show that in practice Islam can be reconciled with modernity, democracy and economic development, coupled with equality," he claimed.
By establishing strategic relations with Indonesia, he said, the U.S. can strengthen regional security in the East Asian region, promote a peaceful maritime environment, structure a stable balance of power in the region, regain credibility in the Muslim world, and develop a stronger framework to counter terrorism and extremism.
He highlighted the U.S. presence in the region, which is "critical for peace and stability and in providing strategic choices for the countries of East Asia, especially Indonesia".
The U.S. is also the "centerpiece of economic recovery for the world", which needs support and cooperation from the region and Indonesia, he said.
Therefore, the two countries "need regular exchanges and dialogues," he said.
Secretary Clinton's visit will open a new era in the two countries' relations, he concluded. And a possible visit by President Obama to Indonesia in November could be seen as an opportunity to "strengthen this new level of cooperation", he said.