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Indonesian military chief free to travel to US

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JAKARTA Indonesia's military chief is free to travel to the United States, the US embassy said yesterday, after the general was apparently stopped as he tried to board a flight.

Jakarta has demanded an explanation for the incident after General Gatot Nurmantyo - who is believed to harbour presidential ambitions - was refused boarding in Jakarta by the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

Gen Nurmantyo had been invited to Washington by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford, America's highest-ranking military officer, where he was due to attend a conference.

Erin Elizabeth McKee, acting deputy ambassador to Jakarta, said there were "absolutely no issues" with the general's ability to visit the US.

"General Gatot is able to travel, there are no restrictions, the United States welcomed his participation in the conference that General Dunford invited him to," she said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the US ambassador had apologised, but had offered no explanation.

"We have told them that we still demand a clarification and explanation on why the incident happened, we told them we are still waiting," she said.

Gen Nurmantyo will not attend the conference unless this clarification is received. "If there has been a mistake, there must be an apology, not to the military commander but to the government," a military spokesman said. - AFP

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