President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, accompanied by First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and senior officials, has departed for his first overseas trip of the year to Africa and the Middle East with the mission of forging new economic partnerships and raising the national profile in two multilateral forums.
"We will engage in both bilateral and multilateral missions on this eight-day trip which will include four destination countries," Yudhoyono said in a press conference at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport prior to his departure.
The delegation is expected to arrive in Monrovia, Liberia, on Thursday where Yudhoyono will attend the third meeting of the UN High Level Panel (HLP) on the Post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Yudhoyono, along with Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and British Prime Minister David Cameron have been appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to co-chair the panel.
After staying in Monrovia for two days, the delegation will fly to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, for a state visit. Yudhoyono said he would utilize his bilateral meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to seek new economic opportunities.
From Nigeria, Yudhoyono will then fly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a working visit. He and his wife will also make a minor pilgrimage to Mecca and Madina.
The government will set up business meetings in both Abuja and Jeddah that will feature major business players from both countries.
Yudhoyono plans to conclude his trip by attending the 12th Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo, Egypt on Feb. 6, despite the ongoing unrest in several Egyptian cities.
"There have been political, social, and security issues in at least three Egyptian provinces which have been declared as dangerous due to the emergency status. There were also some protests and social disruption in Cairo recently. But so far the summit organizers insist on staying on schedule. I am ready to attend it in the hope that the situation will be conducive," Yudhoyono said.
"I have also been asked by Egypt to address a session on Palestine. This is linked to our national interest as we have to continuously promote Palestinian independence," he added.
Yudhoyono and his delegation are expected to return to Indonesia on Feb. 7.