Medan, Indonesia – Indonesian President Joko Widodo is in the United States this week for a summit with President Joe Biden at the White House, and later to attend the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, amid the continuing Israel-Gaza war.
The visit has prompted questions about whether Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, will call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The issue is particularly heated as the Indonesia Hospital, located in north Gaza, has been encircled by Israeli forces.
The hospital was built in 2011 with donations from Indonesian citizens and organisations, including the Indonesian Red Cross Society and the Muhammadiyah Society, one of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisations. It was officially inaugurated in 2016 by the then-Indonesian vice president, Jusuf Kalla.
Three Indonesian volunteers with the Indonesian humanitarian organisation the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), which organised the donations to build the hospital, are currently based in north Gaza.
However, despite the grim situation in the besieged enclave, experts told Al Jazeera that Widodo was likely to use the visit to the White House to discuss a wide range of issues.
“He will likely discuss several matters related to investment and trade, especially related to the relocation of the capital and critical minerals such as nickel, downstreaming and the production of electric vehicles in Indonesia,” said Ahmad Rizky M Umar, an associate lecturer at the University of Queensland.
As an outgoing president whose second, and final, term in office will end next year, Widodo is likely to be concerned with securing his legacy and shoring up current projects already in the works, such as plans to relocate 1.5 million of Jakarta’s 11 million residents to East Kalimantan under the new capital city project estimated to cost some $32bn.
Umar added that Widodo would probably also discuss Indonesia’s membership of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which might make it more attractive to investors given the organisation’s commitment to best practices, as Southeast Asia’s biggest economy looks to lure more US entrepreneurs.