JAKARTA – The United States State Department was in damage control with Indonesia’s government the other day after the top Indonesian general was prevented from traveling to Washington, even though he had a valid visa.
Military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and his wife had planned to leave Indonesia on Saturday evening but were told by their airline shortly before departure that U.S. Customs would deny their entry.
Nurmantyo had been invited by Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to attend a conference in Washington on extremist organizations.
Indonesia’s government is seeking clarification on why Indonesian military chief was denied entry into the United States.
In Jakarta the deputy US ambassador to Indonesia, Erin McKee did not explain why General Gatot Nurmantyo was prevented from boarding a flight to the US but said the matter had been resolved.
McKee met with Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Monday morning and said she apologized. US Ambassador Joseph Donovan also offered an apology, according to a statement on Sunday from the embassy.
“We deeply regret the inconvenience that this incident caused and we apologize,” McKee told reporters.
“There are absolutely no issues with his ability to travel to the United States. We welcome him. The embassy is working very hard to understand what happened,” she said.
Nurmantyo and his wife had planned to leave Indonesia on Saturday evening but were told by their airline shortly before departure that US Customs would deny their entry, according to military spokesperson Wuryanto, who goes by one name.
Nurmantyo had been invited by General Joseph Dunford, chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, to attend a conference in Washington on countering extremist organizations.
Wuryanto said that Nurmantyo, his wife and an entourage of four officials had US visas and that Nurmantyo last visited the US in February 2016.
Relations between the US and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, are generally friendly.
Indonesia’s military has a checkered human rights record, but Nurmantyo himself has not been accused of rights abuses.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said on Sunday that the Indonesian Embassy in Washington had sent a diplomatic note to the State Department.
The Associated Press