US diplomat apologizes after Indonesia general denied entry

By on October 23, 2017


Erin McKee, the deputy U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, did not explain why Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo was prevented from boarding a flight to the U.S. but said the matter had been resolved. (Photo: usaid.gov)
Erin McKee, the deputy U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, did not explain why Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo was prevented from boarding a flight to the U.S. but said the matter had been resolved. (Photo: usaid.gov)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A U.S. diplomat apologized to Indonesia’s government after the top Indonesian general was prevented from travelling to Washington and said Monday the military commander is welcome in the U.S.

Erin McKee, the deputy U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, did not explain why Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo was prevented from boarding a flight to the U.S. but said the matter had been resolved.

McKee met with Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Monday morning and said she apologized. U.S. Ambassador Joseph Donovan also offered an apology, according to a statement Sunday from the embassy.

“We deeply regret the inconvenience that this incident caused and we apologize,” McKee told reporters.

“There are absolutely no issues with his ability to travel to the United States. We welcome him. The embassy is working very hard to understand what happened,” she said.

Nurmantyo and his wife had planned to leave Indonesia on Saturday evening but were told by their airline shortly before departure that U.S. Customs would deny their entry, according to military spokesman Wuryanto, who goes by one name.

Nurmantyo had been invited by Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to attend a conference in Washington on countering extremist organizations.

Wuryanto said that Nurmantyo, his wife and an entourage of four officials had U.S. visas and that Nurmantyo last visited the U.S. in February 2016.

Relations between the U.S and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, are generally friendly.

Indonesia’s military has a checkered human rights record, but Nurmantyo himself has not been accused of rights abuses.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said on Sunday that the Indonesian Embassy in Washington had sent a diplomatic note to the State Department.