RI, Liberia to improve economic, political and security ties
Bagus BT Saragih
The Jakarta Post
The visit of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Indonesia has marked the highest level of cooperation between Indonesia and Liberia since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1965.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono welcomed Sirleaf, the first-ever Liberian president to visit Indonesia, in a state ceremony at the Merdeka Palace on Monday.
The two state leaders and relevant officials conducted bilateral discussions after the ceremony, which resulted in the signing of two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on trade promotion and industry capacity enhancement.
“We have agreed to improve cooperation in the sectors of agriculture, fisheries and maritime affairs. We also want to cooperate to improve the productivity of rice and other agricultural commodities,” Yudhoyono told a press conference after the meeting.
“Other sectors that will be improved are education and security. In particular, we will also improve cooperation in international forums such as UN as well as the ASEAN-African Union,” he added.
Sirleaf openly asked more Indonesian tycoons to invest in the African nation.
“I’d like to invite more Indonesian entrepreneurs to set up factories, to establish joint ventures with Liberian counterparts, to develop value added products, such as in agriculture, furniture, garments, fisheries and rubber processing,” Sirleaf told the press conference.
In a response that could be intended as a reward for Indonesia’s willingness to open up opportunities to cooperate, Sirleaf said Liberia “welcomed Indonesia’s bid to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2019-2020.”
Industry Minister MS Hidayat said Indonesia had been planning to import rice plantation technology from Liberia, which was said to be suitable for Indonesia’s geographical location and climate.
Sirleaf came with 45 delegation members that included Liberian Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan, Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth, Commerce and Industry Minister Miata Beysolow and Presidential Advisor Seward Cooper.
Yudhoyono and Sirleaf’s previous bilateral meeting was held in the Liberian capital of Monrovia in February, on the sidelines of a meeting of the UN High-Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda.
The first joint commission for Indonesia-Liberia bilateral cooperation was held at the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta, earlier on Monday.
The meeting resulted in cooperation in three areas: trade and investment; technical cooperation, which includes sharing best practice, especially in the furniture, textile, garment, food processing, palm oil, agriculture, fisheries, maritime and education sectors; and improving political and security ties.
“Our two countries share a common commitment to world peace. Liberia appreciates Indonesia’s long standing participation in UN peace keeping missions across the world, including the UN Mission in Liberia, which has been there since 2003,” Sirleaf said.
“To enhance Liberia’s role in international peacekeeping, we are grateful to Indonesia for inviting the Liberian government to take advantage of Indonesia’s peace and security center in Sentul [West Java] for sharing experiences and best practices, as well as the training of Liberian military and security officers,” she added.
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