Not a diss, foreign ministry says, as no US official greeted Jokowi’s arrival in Washington D.C.

President Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana arriving in Washington D.C. on May 10, 2022. Photo: Presidential Secretariat
President Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana arriving in Washington D.C. on May 10, 2022. Photo: Presidential Secretariat

Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has quashed the notion that President Joko Widodo was disrespected upon his arrival in Washington D.C.

Jokowi arrived in the US capital on May 10, 2022 at 9:40pm local time. The president is set to attend the ASEAN-US Special Summit on May 12-13.

The talking point back home was what seemed a peculiar scene (shown in the YouTube video below) of Jokowi, along with First Lady Iriana, stepping off the plane and not being greeted by any high-ranking US official. In fact, the footage shows that Jokowi was greeted by Indonesia’s Ambassador to the US, Rosan Roeslani.

Many in Indonesia perceived that the lack of a grand welcome was a slight against Jokowi. Critics of the president particularly had a field day, claiming that this proved their belief of Jokowi’s insignificance in world politics.

Amid all the noise, the Foreign Affairs Ministry today issued a statement clarifying that the lack of US officials greeting Jokowi’s protocol was indeed in line with protocol.

“The Indonesian president’s visit to Washington D.C. is not a bilateral visit. He’s there to attend the ASEAN-US Special Summit,” the ministry’s spokesman Faizasyah said today.

“It’s regrettable that people drew their own conclusions without understanding the real situation.”

Faizasyah noted that none of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri, nor Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính were greeted by US officials upon their arrival in Washington D.C. 

Indeed, Coconuts viewed footage of those leaders’ arrivals and did not spot any high-ranking US official welcoming them at the airport.

All the same, we understand the fuss surrounding this little political etiquette detail. After all, we find it hard to imagine if the roles were reversed, i.e. Joe Biden arrived in Jakarta without at least Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi greeting him at the airport.

The ASEAN-US Special Summit marks 45 years of US relations with the Southeast Asian bloc.

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