FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives for the swearing-in ceremony of Judge Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Supreme Court Justice in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts /File Photo
By Kanupriya Kapoor and Fransiska Nangoy
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Washington has billed Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Indonesia next week as a booster for the Strategic Partnership between the world’s second- and third-largest democracies, but a raft of bilateral tensions could sap the goodwill from his trip.
Pence’s counterpart in the world’s most populous Muslim country has voiced worries about U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policy, which critics say is biased against Muslims, and about his “America First” mantra on trade and investment.
“We in Indonesia never change. The change is there. That’s why we’re asking them now, ‘what is your policy now on the economy, on democracy, now that Trump is in power?’,” Vice President Jusuf Kalla told Reuters on March 31.
“What does it mean, ‘America first’? I can say, too, ‘Indonesia first’ if you say ‘America first’.”
Indonesia is one of 16 countries against which the United States runs a trade deficit that will be investigated by the Trump administration for possible trade abuses.