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Jakarta Post

Australia, RI strengthen renewed defense ties

  • Liza Yosephine

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 17, 2017   /  09:52 am
Australia, RI strengthen renewed defense ties Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu speak to journalists in a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Jakarta on Jan. 12, 2016. (the jakarta post/Wienda Parwitasari)

Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryucudu met with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne in Sydney on Thursday, taking further steps forward since mending ties over a military spat that prompted the suspension of military cooperation.

The two met during the annual Defense Ministers’ Meeting.

Ryamizard conveyed his appreciation for Australia’s efforts to resolve an incident that involved one of its military language facilities in November that led to postponed cooperation between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Australian Defense Force for two months.

He expressed “happiness over the resumption of military cooperation between the two countries,” according to a Defense Ministry statement.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo agreed with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to fully restore defense cooperation, training exchange and activities during a state visit to Australia in February.

Putting behind past troubles, Ryamizard and Payne discussed, among other things, strengthening defense cooperation in the field of science and technology. Ryamizard particularly emphasized Indonesia’s efforts to develop its defense cybersecurity.

“Science and technology cooperation has great potential to build the depth and resilience of our bilateral relationship and we agreed to greater cooperation and engagement,” Payne said in a statement.

The two countries also are set to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation in the areas of maritime and defense industries.

In the regional context, Ryamizard conveyed strengthening relations between Indonesia and Fiji, while also expressing hope that Australia could push countries in the South Pacific to support Indonesia’s sovereignty.

Payne gave a nod to the “longstanding and productive bilateral defense relationship” between the two countries that are carried out in support of mutual interests in security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The neighboring countries are set to co-chair the next cycle of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM+) Experts’ Working Group on peacekeeping operations later this year.

“This represents a great opportunity to strengthen regional peacekeeping efforts and build upon existing bilateral peacekeeping cooperation,” Payne said.

The ministers noted the importance of ASEAN security frameworks to build regional trust, transparency and cooperation while discussing regional security dynamics. Payne also invited Ryamizard to Darwin in the near future to view the United States Force Posture Initiatives, a cooperation between the US and Australia that came into force in 2015. “The Force Posture Initiatives provide new opportunities for regional defense engagement, including with Indonesia, to build mutual trust and contribute to regional peace and security,” she said.

The initiatives were part of US president Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia” policy to counter China, a policy likely to be abandoned by his successor President Donald Trump.

Separately, Institute for Defense and Security Studies (IDSS) executive director Mufti Makarim said new plans discussed between Indonesia and Australia on both bilateral and regional levels would only complement the already established ties between the two countries, where cooperation such as information-sharing has long been intensive since the 2002 Bali bombings.

It would be additional in nature, Mufti said, to add new plans associated with advanced developments on the field.

“In the context of the defense industry, of course it would advance toward information exchange on weaponry technology development, since as we know, Australia is not a country that is a major producer of weapons, so it would be further opportunity for Indonesia to introduce locally made products,” Mufti told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

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