The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono bestowed the country's highest award, the Adipurna Star, on Philippine President Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III and East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao at the Bali Democracy Forum on Friday,
stating both leaders' commitment to promoting bilateral ties.
Yudhoyono stated that Aquino's efforts to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries had helped boost economic growth in both the Philippines and Indonesia by more than 10.9 percent
in the past five years.
'Aquino's commitment to bilateral economic cooperation has benefited both
sides,' Yudhoyono said on Friday
as quoted by Antara news agency. The President also voiced appreciation for the Philippines' attempt to peacefully resolve maritime border issues with Indonesia.
After accepting the award, Aquino praised Yudhoyono for his efforts in settling maritime disputes between the two countries, which come against the backdrop of the Philippines' maritime issues with
China in the South China Sea.
'With his assuring leadership, our two nations were able to resolve in an amicable manner the issue concerning our maritime boundaries in the Mindanao Sea and the Celebes Sea, thus moving our nations forward with an even deeper trust in each other,' Aquino said as quoted by the
Meanwhile, Yudhoyono praised Timor Leste's rule under Xanana Gusmao,saying that relations between the two countries had never been stronger.
"This is a great day for the symbolization of relations between Timor Leste and Indonesia. Such events as the Indonesia-Timor Leste Friendship Forum has further strengthened the ties between us,"
Yudhoyono said upon granting the award to Gusmao.
The President also claimed that both nations had signed 49 bilateral agreements aiming to boost cooperation, adding that bilateral trade had been boosted by 12.7 percent per year for the past
Indonesia and Timor Leste have had tumultuous relations in the past, due to Indonesia's occupation of Timor in 1975 until its independence in 2002.
The 2014 Bali Democracy Forum runs for two days, concluding on Saturday, and will be Yudhoyono's eighth and final forum as the president. He finishes his 10-year term on Oct. 20.
Delegates from 85 countries in the Asia-Pacific region attended the forum with another ASEAN leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, making a speech at the event. (dyl)