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August 3, 2008

Indonesia: US seeks cooperation Islamic organisations
The United States is looking into the possibility of cooperation with Islamic mass organisations in Indonesia particularly in the fields of education, health service and culture, reported national news agency Antara.

"The possibility of cooperation with the US is part of inter-civilisation dialog and cooperation," chief of the Muhammadiyah Islamic organization, Din Syamsuddin, said commenting on his meeting with US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K Glassman in Washington DC on Friday.

Din said the planned cooperation would be based on the principles of mutual respect and understanding.

"I have particularly asked the US not to regard Muslim countries including Indonesia as a threat or enemy but as a friend or strategic partner," he said.

He reminded both the US and Muslim countries of the need to adjust with one another to create constructive cooperation.

"The Islamic world needs the US, or the other way around. Indonesia as one of the world`s most populous nations should not be ignored. Quite a few observers of Islam only touch on the Middle East when speaking of the Islamic world," he said.

The Muhammadiyah chief said the planned cooperation between the US and Indonesian Islamic organisations in the educational sector would among others cover student exchange programs.

Asked when the cooperation in the educational sector would materialize, he said it would largely depend on the US.

"The US is now in the period of transition. They will soon have a new government. Let us look at further developments," he said.

During his stay in Washington DC, Din also held talks with representatives from the American Jewish Committee on how to promote interfaith and civilisation dialogues. Earlier, he also gave a lecture at Yale University on the same matter.

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