Summarized by Kent Larsen
Hinckley's Visit to Troubled Indonesia Gets National Attention
Associated Press 27Jan00 N1
JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley arrived in
Indonesia today as part of a scheduled trip through Asia and the
Pacific, just as fighting erupted between Christians and Muslims in
eastern Indonesia. The latest fighting, which started in the past three
days, has claimed the lives of 65 people, according to Indonesian
officials. More than 2,000 people have lost their lives in sectarian
violence in the past year.
The clashes occurred on the island of Bacan, part of the North Maluku
archipelago, 1,600 miles northeast of Jakarta. The latest violence is
said to be the result of an influx of Muslims into the area in recent
years. President Hinckley is nowhere near the fighting and the fighting
is not expected to interrupt his visit.
LDS Church officials told the Associated Press that the visit was at the
invitation of Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid. Hinckley was
scheduled to have a private dinner with Wahid at the state palace
This is the first visit of an LDS President to Indonesia, where the
Church has about 5,000 members. LDS missionary work started in Indonesia
in the early 1970s, but the mission has twice been closed for several
years due to difficulties with the Indonesian government. The current
mission has been open since 1995.
The visit is a significant opportunity for the LDS Church which has
sought a good relationship with Wahid since before he became Indonesia's
president. Wahid became friends with an Californian LDS Church member
who was staying in Indonesia. When the LDS friend learned that Wahid was
going blind, he recommended an LDS doctor in Salt Lake City. Wahid then
went to Salt Lake to have surgery at the University of Utah's Medical
Center. Wahid first met Hinckley during a follow-up visit to Utah.