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Barry to Bali?

Will He or Won't He? Bali Ponders the Possibility of a March 2010 Visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.

(3/8/2010) While an official confirmation has yet to be announced, there are a number of strong indications that U.S. President Barack Obama may include the island of Bali on his coming 2-day visit to Indonesia, tentatively scheduled for March 20-22, 2010.

Indonesia Foreign Affairs spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah, is insisting that the dates for Obama's Indonesia visit other than to say such a visit is "soon."

Earlier in March, Indonesian Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Patrialis Akbar, told the press that the March 20-22 dates would be used by Obama to visit Jakarta and Central Java.

It seems clear, however, that the itinerary that will be followed by the U.S. President has been changed and plans for a visit to Solo (Surakarta) and the nearby Borobudur Temple have been ditched, reportedly in favor of a visit to Bali.

And while no official confirmation from Jakarta or Washington has been made of the Bali visit, the Commander of Kodam (Pangdam) IX Military District, Major General Hotmangaradja Pandjaitan told BeritaBali.com that he is in the midst of preparing a 9,000 man security contingent on the island to safeguard Obama's visit.

Hedging his bets, Pandjaitan said on Sunday, March 7th: "It's still tentative in nature and there's been no confirmation whether he's coming or not. (But) In and case were ready. I think the people of Bali and the police will present an Indonesia that is peaceful."

Beritabali.com also confirms that several American security officials accompanied by Jakarta-based Indonesian officials have arrived in Bali to coordinate a visit with the military and police.

Separate reports from Vivanews.com, quote sources in the protocol department of the Bali provincial administration, speculating that Barack Obama may visit Bali's Udayana University.

Meanwhile, the White House Web Site carries statements by Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs indicating that the President is endeavoring to finalize important legislation pending before the Congress in order to be able to leave the U.S capital on March 18th.

Gibbs has also told the press that the trip to Indonesia will include stops in Guam and Australia, and that the President will travel with his Wife and two daughters. That the children will join President and Mrs. Michelle Obama on Air Force One also suggests that the visit will take place during their daughters' Easter Holidays. A check of the website of the exclusive Sidwell Friends School, attended by Malia and Sasch Obama, confirms that school holidays commence officially on Friday, March 19, 2010.

If Obama does visit Bali it will not be his first visit. In the early 1990s, after graduating from Harvard Law School, the future U.S. President secluded himself in a Bali villa while penning his best-selling autobiography "Dreams from My Father."

The President also spent several of his formative years as an elementary student living in Jakarta with his Mother and Indonesian Step-Father.

Will Barry come to Bali? Stay tuned to this space for more information.