WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama discussed the global economic crisis with his Indonesian counterpart on Friday and explained his commitment to forging better relations with the Islamic world, the White House said.
The U.S. president also discussed the economic crisis and the upcoming Group of 20 summit of developed and developing nations in phone calls with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines, the White House said in a statement.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono, Obama spoke of the need for close cooperation in confronting the economic crisis, it said.
“They agreed to advance our comprehensive partnership with a focus on issues, including education, health care, climate change and counterterrorism,” the statement said.
“The two leaders also discussed regional and international issues, including the president’s commitment to a new and different kind of relationship with Islamic communities around the world,” it said. “They also discussed how to make progress on democracy and human rights in Burma.”
Obama spent part of his childhood in Jakarta and attended school there. After a previous conversation, Yudhoyono told a local newspaper that Obama had greeted him in Indonesian.
The U.S. leader has stressed his wish to improve ties with the Islamic world and has promised to give a major speech from the capital of a Muslim country during his first year in office.
His first interview after becoming president was with al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based Arabic television station, and he will travel to Turkey after the G20 summit in early April.
Obama spoke with King Abdullah about the need to coordinate international efforts to restore economic growth, the White House said.
“The president and King Abdullah also reaffirmed the importance of a strong U.S.-Saudi relationship in promoting peace and security in the region,” it said.
The call was his second with Abdullah since taking office on January 20.
Obama also discussed the economy with Arroyo, and the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the long-standing U.S.-Philippines alliance, including the visiting forces agreement governing the handling of visiting U.S. military personnel, the White House said.
“The president commended President Arroyo on her country’s efforts in countering terrorism and modernizing the armed forces,” it said.