India, Indonesia boost trade and defence ties

RSTV Bureau
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj meets her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi during their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018.AP/PTI

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj meets her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi during their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi in Jakarta and both leaders jointly co-chaired the 5th Meeting of the Joint Commission on Friday.

The two leaders reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations between India and Indonesia and reaffirmed their commitment for peace, security and development in the region.

“We agreed to develop synergetic relationship to harness the potential of Indo-Pacific region and to meet the challenges that the region faces,” said Swaraj after the talks.

India recognises Indonesia as the biggest economy in the ASEAN region and believes it has a critical role to play in evolution of the new security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region.

Both nations agreed to enhance consultations and cooperation on maritime issues including on UNCLOS with a view to strengthen rule of law and to ensure the freedom of navigation and safety of sea lanes of communication.

The leaders also condemned terrorism in all its forms and expressed strong opposition to any selective approaches to deal with the global menace. They called upon all countries to stop providing state sponsorship of terrorism and prevent their territories being used for establishing terrorist safe havens.

Talks at the Joint Commission meeting also featured focused on enhancing economic ties.

Expansion of civil aviation to boost tourism was also discussed. India also expressed the importance of addressing the high trade deficit it has with Indonesia and conveyed that the best way to address this issue is not to restrict trade but to increase it.

“We agreed to work together for a balanced and sustainable trade by providing greater market access, both in goods and services,” said Swaraj.

India conveyed to Indonesia that it will continue its skill development assistance in the form of short term training program and scholarships.

Both countries decided to further deepen cooperation in education, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

Swaraj also expressed her appreciation that President Joko Widodo had accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to join the ASEAN Special Commemorative Summit as Guest of Honour at India’s Republic Day celebrations, along with other ASEAN Head of States and Heads of Government.

On Saturday, the two leaders will jointly inaugurate the ASEAN India Think Tanks Forum, which will play a major role in strengthening of India-ASEAN partnership as part of India’s ActEast policy.

Swaraj also called on Indonesian Vice-President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla.

This is the second leg of her three-nation tour in Southeast Asia. She will now head to Singapore where she will inaugurate the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) of ASEAN countries on January 7.

(With inputs from agencies)