President meets with interfaith leaders

President meets with interfaith leaders

Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. (ANTARA/Widodo S. Jusuf)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met with interfaith leaders here on Monday evening who had earlier levelled criticism against his administration.

In his introductory speech the President hoped the meeting would calm the people and remind them of the importance of national unity and hard work to make the nation become an advanced nation in the 21st century.

"Hopefully, followers of all religions and the people of Indonesia who are watching this program become calm upon seeing that we are still communicating despite all the criticism the religious leaders have voiced with full responsibility to us, the government which is just carrying out its duties," he said.

The meeting was also attended by Vice President Boediono and all members of the cabinet.
The meeting proper between the president and the interfaith leaders was closed to the press. Newsmen were requested to leave after the president had made his introductory remarks.

The chairman of Islamic organization Muhammadiyah, Din Syamsuddin, was then asked to present his views.

Newsmen would be allowed to enter the meeting room again when the results of the dialogue were read out.

Those attending the meeting included Andreas Yewangoe, the chief of the Indonesian Communion of Churches, Catholic priest Franz Magnis Suseno, the associate chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, Ma`ruf Amin, the general chairperson of the Budhist Association Hartarti Murdaya and Connfucian leader Budi Ranoewibowo.

President Yudhoyono said he understood the role played by the religious leaders of guiding their followers and setting the best example to them for the nation and state.

"I understand the role that has been carried out while I, the vice president and the government that I lead, in line with the mandate given by the people, will work as hard as possible to carry out the general tasks and development efforts," he said.

President Yudhoyono said the tasks were not easy to carry out but the government continued to work hard to advance the nation and the country.

Therefore, he hoped the meeting would be used as a forum for dialogue among citizens responsible for the country`s future.

"Let us conduct the meeting in a constructive atmosphere, to give and take. Our commitment is the same, namely we wish our nation will progress and prosper," he said.

He said dialogue and communication are important to reduce mis-perceptions by listening to each other.

President Yudhoyono said the meeting was held in response to Din`s request through a short text message on January 14.(*)