The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has told Pacific Island leaders that Indonesia was committed to boosting ties with the region based on mutual respect for each other's sovereignty.
Yudhoyono made the remark in his speech on Thursday during the second summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) in Nadi, Fiji, which was attended by Pacific Island leaders and representative, some of whom have been critical of Jakarta's handling of the Papua issue.
Yudhoyono is in Fiji for a three-day state visit at the invitation of Fiji, where he also held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama on Wednesday.
Yudhoyono revealed Indonesia's plan to allocate US$20 million to capacity building programs for Pacific Islands countries; Jakarta's commitment to boost connectivity with the South Pacific region, which would overcome the challenge of distance; as well as improve trade and investment with the PIDF countries.
However, Yudhoyono ' who is the first Indonesian President to visit Fiji ' did not mention restive Papua, despite on Tuesday, before he left Jakarta for Fiji, telling reporters he would explain his Papua and West Papua policies to the South Pacific leaders.
Yudhoyono has also pointed out two forums in the region ' the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum ' were often used by separatist movements in Papua to attract international support.
The two countries signed six memorandums of understanding (MoU), including those related to cooperation on diplomatic training, youth and sports, fishery, housing, diplomatic visas and drugs trafficking eradication.
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