U.S. Issues Jakarta Travel Warning

Tuesday, October 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department advised Americans to defer travel to Jakarta and other areas of Java, the most populous island in Indonesia.

In an announcement Monday, the department said intimidation and threats of violence had been directed at U.S. citizens in Jakarta, Solo and other parts of the island.

On Sunday, the department said, a number of groups identifying themselves as Islamic organizations visited hotels in the Solo area to demand names of American guests and to deliver an ultimatum that U.S. citizens leave Indonesia within 48 hours.

The travel announcement advised Americans to exercise ``extreme caution'' in their travels in the country.

Major tourist areas in Bali, Sumatra and North Sulawesi have been relatively calm, but unrest and violence can erupt without forewarning, the department said.

On Monday, U.S. Ambassador Robert Gelbard sharply criticized Indonesia's reform efforts.

Indonesian leaders responded by calling him an interfering bully. The U.S. Embassy closed its doors to the public.

Relations between the United States and the sprawling southeast Asian nation, the world's most-populous Muslim country, have been on a downward spiral for months.

Sympathy for the Palestinians is strong in Indonesia, and anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment increased with conflicts between Israeli forces and Palestinian rioters on the West Bank and in Gaza.

In Indonesia, as in many parts of the world, the United States is identified as a close ally of Israel.