By Kevin Varley and Rieka Rahadiana
The State Department isn’t saying why an Indonesian general invited to the U.S. by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was prohibited from boarding his flight.
The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, in a statement on its website, said it has been in touch with General Gatot Nurmantyo’s staff throughout the weekend and “remains prepared to facilitate the General’s travel to the United States.” It made no mention of why he was stopped from traveling or by whom, only that he was “unable to travel as planned.”
Nurmantyo had been invited by General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to attend the Chiefs of Defense Conference on Countering Violent Extremism Oct. 23-24 in Washington. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, is a U.S. ally and hasn’t been included in any of the travel bans ordered by President Donald Trump.
“We remain committed to our strategic partnership with Indonesia as a way to deliver security and prosperity to both our nations and peoples,” the embassy said.
Nurmantyo and his wife were told by Emirates airline just before their scheduled departure that they were blocked from traveling by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Wuryanto, a spokesman for the Indonesian military, said at a press conference Sunday. The general has visited U.S. on several occasions, Wuryanto said.
U.S. Ambassador Joseph Donovan apologized for the incident, according to the statement. The Indonesian embassy in Washington has sought clarification from the State Department, spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said in a text message.
A State Department spokesman didn’t elaborate on the embassy statement or the apology. A message seeking comment from a Customs and Border Protection spokesman was not immediately returned.