US pushes defence ties with Indonesia as China strengthens

US pushes defence ties with Indonesia as China strengthens

JAKARTA: US Defence Secretary Lloyd J.Austin met his Indonesian counterpart on Monday to push stronger defence ties amid growing Chinese naval activity in the Indo-Pacific region.
Austin, at a joint news conference after meeting with Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, said they discussed ways to deepen the two countries’ partnership, including through expanding interoperability and increasing investments in defence education.
“The United States is proud to partner with you as we work together to advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Austin said. But Subianto stressed Indonesia’s neutral stance.
“I like to emphasise that Indonesia always takes the position of trying to maintain the best relationships with all nations, especially all the major powers,” Subianto said.
Austin arrived in Jakarta late Sunday from a visit to Canada’s Halifax city where he spoke about US efforts to build a more resilient security architecture with allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific and Europe at the Halifax International Security Forum.
His visit to Indonesia comes less than a week after leaders of the Group of 20 economies met on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali.
In a declaration, most strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and warned that the conflict is making an already delicate world economy worse.
“We are meeting as the world is grappling with assaults on the rules-based international order, especially Russia’s unprovoked invasion against Ukraine,” Austin said, “And it’s especially vital now that more like-minded countries come together to uphold our shared principles, including the rule of law.”
He applauded Indonesia for its vote at the UN General Assembly earlier this year condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
While Indonesia and China enjoy generally positive ties, Jakarta has expressed concern about Chinese encroachment on its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.
—PTI

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