Saudi Arabia, RI ink defense cooperation agreement
Novan Iman Santosa
The Jakarta Post
Saudi Arabia and Indonesia on Thursday signed the first defense cooperation agreement (DCA) covering training and education, counter-terrorism efforts and the defense industry.
The DCA was signed by Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Sultan Abdul Aziz Al Saud and his host Lt. Gen. (ret.) Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin at the Defense Ministry.
Sjafrie told reporters after the signing that the DCA was the first signed since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1950. It is also the first that Indonesia has signed with a Middle Eastern country.
'This is the first time a Saudi deputy defense minister has visited Indonesia,' he said.
He said both countries agreed that terrorism affected nations across the globe. The deputy defense ministers also agreed that terrorism should not be linked to any ideology, in particular to Islam.
'No religion in the world teaches violence,' Sjafrie said.
Recent terrorist incidents have painted a bad picture of Islam. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries damaged by terrorism threats, the Indonesian Defense Ministry said in a press release.
Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have suffered from numerous attacks linked to certain Islamist groups.
Both countries agreed to cooperate in capacity building to increase professionalism by opening opportunities for joint exercises.
'We have agreed to fight terrorism by holding joint exercises [that involve] members of both countries' special forces,' said Sjafrie.
When asked whether Indonesian commandoes will also learn desert military tactics, Sjafrie said it might not go that far.
Sjafrie presented Salman with an SS2-V1 assault rifle made by state-owned arms maker PT Pindad before the guest visited the headquarters of the Army's Special Force s(Kopassus) in Cijantung, East Jakarta, and watched Kopassus operatives showcasing their skills.
Salman, who served at the Royal Saudi Air Defense, shot a submachine gun and a hand gun at the Kopassus shooting range.
Salman also observed a number of Anoa armored personnel carriers (APC) and a Komodo tactical vehicle produced by PT Pindad in Bandung.
Sjafrie said that Indonesia had offered a joint investment, focusing on the Anoa platform, which may suit Saudi needs in the defense industry.
'We, for example, would install an air-conditioning unit in the Anoa because it is very hot there, reaching as high as 48 Celsius.
'We have done this for Anoa APCs deployed in Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia will be a lot hotter.'
Before returning home via Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in East Jakarta, Salman observed two helicopters and two transportation airplanes, which are assembled and produced by state-owned PT Dirgantara Indonesia (DI).
Sjafrie said that the Saudi side had requested detailed specifications of weapon systems made by Indonesia to be assessed and matched with the kingdom's needs and geographical conditions.
'The assessment is at the observation phase. Today's visit was an introduction to the Indonesian defense industry's capability,' he said.
'We hope there will be follow up meetings in the future.'
In other sectors, Saudi Arabia will donate an Arabic language laboratory to the Indonesian Peace and Security Center in Sentul, West Java.
'The language lab will be used to train Indonesian soldiers who will be deployed in Lebanon as part of the UN peacekeeping mission.
'They will also build a mosque,' Sjafrie said.
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