Prince Andrew tries to keep his nose clean in Indonesia

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The Independent Online

Prince Andrew has quietly resumed his role as UK trade ambassador, in his first official trip abroad following the furore surrounding his contact with foreign dictators. The Prince arrived in Indonesia yesterday to promote British business interests there. The visit received no publicity in the UK, but was reported on the website of the British embassy in Jakarta.

The Prince is due to meet Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, leading politicians and British and Indonesian businessmen. He will also take part in a meeting of the Alliance of Low Carbon Businesses.

On the Prince's previous trade visit to Jakarta in March 2008, the politicians he met included the Minister for Defence, although, for 12 years, Indonesia has featured on the list of countries where British arms sales are banned because of the long war in East Timor.

A month ago, it was reported that the Prince was involved in organising the sale of European Typhoon fighters to Indonesia, but this was flatly denied by UK Trade and Investment, the government body responsible for promoting British exports. A spokesman said: "We are unaware that Indonesia wants or needs fighter jets. We have very strict export licences and anything like that would have to go through proper procedures."

Prince Andrew has been called the "cheerleader in chief for the arms industry" because of the way he has helped British arms exporters do business with certain repressive regimes, including Libya and Yemen. He was due to pay another visit to Saudi Arabia this month, but it was called off.

There is nothing in the notice posted on the Jakarta embassy website to indicate this trip involves talks about arms sales.

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