Indonesia and Suriname underlined historical ties as a strong basis for a closer relationship and committed to expand trade cooperation, agriculture and culture.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and his Suriname counter-part, Winston G. Lackin, agreed to strengthen relations by developing multi-aspect cooperation, during their meeting at Gedung Pancasila in the foreign ministry complex in Jakarta on Monday.
“We have committed to develop our already good relations,” Marty said after bilateral meeting.
He noted that the visit of Suriname’s foreign minister was timely to boost the two countries’ cooperations. The last visit of Suriname’s foreign minister to Jakarta was in 1993.
Lackin said Indonesia and Suriname had a special relationship, dating back to the migration of Indonesians to Suriname in 1890. “A large part of the Surinamese population have Indonesian ancestry. We have been blessed by the richness of your culture, history and religion. This is a strong basis to develop further cooperation,” Lackin added, saying that Suriname is interested in observing Indonesia’s experience in developing its agriculture sector.
Both ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on joint activity between the foreign ministries, strengthening bilateral consultation and communication.
The ministers also agreed to develop technical cooperation such as providing training for teachers who taught the disabled, training in the gas and oil sector, education and sports.
In an effort to intensify people-to-people contact, Lackin will also pay a courtesy call to Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X on Tuesday and will discuss further cooperation between Yogyakarta and Suriname’s Commewijne, which became sister cities in April 2011.
About 15 percent of Suriname’s population has Javanese descent. Some of Suriname’s cabinet ministers, such as interior, trade, agriculture, sports, planning, land and forestry management, technology and environment, are of Javanese descent.
Bilateral trade in 2012, according to Indonesian data, reached US$ 8.9 million. Indonesia’s exports to Suriname in 2012 was $7.1 million while imports was $1.8 million, a $5.3 million surplus for Indonesia.