The Jakarta Post
Indonesia and Australia have agreed that peaceful resolutions in line with international law is the best way to solving any disputes in the region.
The conclusion was made during a bilateral meeting between President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his counterpart Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday, the final day of Jokowi's first state visit to Australia.
The two leaders, however, did not specifically discuss the possibility of wanting Canberra to take part in joint patrols in the South China Sea, which was much anticipated after Jokowi reportedly had hinted at prior to his arrival in Sydney.
“We [Australia and Indonesia] have a vested interest in the peace and stability for our regions, seas and oceans,” Turnbull said in a joint press statement following his bilateral meeting with Jokowi.
“So, we both strongly encourage countries in our region to resolve disputes in accordance with the international law, which is the foundation for stability and prosperity,” he added.
During a recent interview with The Australian, Jokowi said he saw that joint Indonesia-Australia patrols in the South China Sea, potentially around Natuna Islands at the sea's southern edge, as “very important” as long as it did not raise regional tension. According to Jokowi, he would discuss the issue with Turnbull while visiting Australia.
Before Jokowi's controversial suggestion, which has sparked concern from various elements at home, the Indonesian government—a non-claimant in the ongoing sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea—has continually emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the disputed waters, especially between all claimant parties, urging restraint of any action that could raise tensions.
The meeting also marked the mending of military ties between the two countries after a recent hiccup in a joint-military training operation that resulted in Jakarta partially suspending defense cooperation.
“President Widodo and I have agreed to the full restoration of defense cooperation, training exchanges and activities," Turnbull said.
Jokowi said the meeting "has clearly demonstrated our profound commitment to promoting bilateral cooperation".
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi confirmed the meeting never touched on the issue of joint Indonesia-Australia patrols in the disputed sea. (ebf)
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