The Jakarta Post
Indonesia will continue hosting the seventh Bali Process conference that opened on Monday in Nusa Dua, despite concerns over a powerful earthquake that struck neighboring Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, the day before.
"It was a disaster we could not expect," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in Bali on Monday, referring to the 7-magnitude earthquake on Sunday evening that killed at least 91 people.
The tremors were also felt in Bali, which experienced two fatalities.
"I have been following the issue closely. Last night, when the BMKG [Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency] said there was no threat of a tsunami, we decided to continue with the event," said Retno, who was already in Bali when the earthquake occurred.
The seventh Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, an annual forum co-chaired by Indonesia and Australia, runs from Monday to Tuesday, and involves 321 participants from 52 countries and eight global organizations.
Twenty-six participants have positions at the ministerial or vice-ministerial level, making it the largest gathering since the Bali Process was established in 2002, according to a ministry statement.
This year's event, the statement continues, is expected to produce, among others, a ministerial declaration highlighting concerns on the "irregular migration situation and humanity crisis" in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Besides co-hosting the conference, Retno had a series of bilateral meetings with counterparts from countries like New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.