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Indonesian Independence Celebration, Embassy of Indonesia (Washington, D.C.)
As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Embassy of Indonesia, Washington, D.C., Thursday, August 28, 2008

Selamat malam! – Good evening.....  It’s great to be here at the embassy.  Mr. Ambassador—most gracious of you to host this festive celebration.  Congratulations to you and all Indonesians after 63 years of independence!

Let me also add my congratulations to your Olympians….. Indonesia won 5 medals! 

Indonesia is a fascinating country.  And, you’ve appropriately declared this the “Visit Indonesia Year”—encouraging tourists from around the world to travel to your beautiful islands.  I read an interesting factoid just the other day: if a person spent just one day on each island of Indonesia, it would take almost 48 years to see all of them.  Mr. Ambassador, it’s my deep regret that I will be unable to visit all of your islands!

Indonesia’s national motto is: “Unity in Diversity.”  That is a very appropriate message as we face today’s global challenges.  Although we are different people with different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs, we must all come together for a common good. 

Today, the United States and Indonesia enjoy a strong and productive relationship.  The ties between our governments go back almost six decades, when America supported Indonesian independence after World War II. 

And, over the past several years we’ve watched your country become one of the world’s newest and most vital democracies.  And, Indonesia’s prominence stems not only from the fact that you have the largest population and biggest economy in Southeast Asia, but because you lead by example. 

The U.S. is grateful for your many contributions to various peacekeeping efforts across the world, including those in Sudan, Congo, Liberia, Georgia, Nepal, and Lebanon.  There are over 1,000 Indonesians presently deployed to Lebanon alone.

And, Indonesia continues to play a key role in helping to confront terrorism throughout the region.  Your country is home to the largest Muslim population in the world.  As such, Indonesians, as well as anyone, understand that the religion of Islam is one of peace.  And, your efforts in the ongoing global war on terror have been invaluable. 

Indonesia is an important ally and friend to the United States.  And, we have been proud to partner with your country in many endeavors.  Mr. Ambassador—I thank you for your hard work to enhance these relationships.  In the days ahead, the U.S. looks forward to continuing its strong partnership with your country … to achieve a strong economy and a stable democracy solidly built on the principles of human rights and civil liberties.

Indonesia has made great progress over the past 63 years and you have much to celebrate.  Congratulations!  And thank you for affording me the great privilege and honor to celebrate with you.