Pacific News Minute: Diplomatic Uproar in Indonesia after Top General Refused Entry to the U.S.

Oct 26, 2017

General Nurmantyo with Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford Jr.
Credit Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro / U.S. Dept. of Defense

Resentment continues in Jakarta after Indonesia’s top military official was denied entry to the United States last weekend. Senior American officials have apologized but Indonesia demands a full explanation. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Last Saturday, as General Gatot Nurmantyo and his wife prepared to board a flight to Washington, he was informed that he had been barred from entry to the United States and would not be allowed to board the plane. General Gatot had both a valid visa and an invitation from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. The U.S. embassy in Jakarta quickly apologized for what it described as a security screening glitch and arranged a new flight, but the General declined.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis apologized to his Indonesian counterpart on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting in the Philippines and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she had accepted official apologies from the U.S. Ambassador and his deputy but awaited a detailed explanation to - quote  “find out what really happened.” No clear answers have been forthcoming.

Shortly after the incident became public, anti-American signs appeared in Jakarta calling for the expulsion of the U.S. Ambassador and an editorial in the Jakarta Post denounced what it described as a diplomatic scandal.

General Gatot is known as a fervent nationalist who’s expressed suspicions that both Australia and the United States covet Indonesia’s natural resources. He’s scheduled to retire next year and expected to run for President or Vice President in 2019.