India, Indonesia to upgrade ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership


Jakarta: India and Indonesia on Wednesday agreed to upgrade their ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and called for freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region as they signed 15 agreements including one on defence cooperation after extensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joko Widodo.

Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday night on his first-ever official visit to Indonesia, was accorded a red carpet welcome on his arrival at the Merdeka palace, one of the presidential palaces in Indonesia, on Wednesday morning.

PM Modi and Widodo had a tete-e-tete before the delegation-level talks.

The two leaders highlighted potential areas of cooperation in marine, economy, and socio-culture as well as discussed regional and global issues.

In a joint press statement after the talks, PM Modi said India and Indonesia have agreed to upgrade their ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

He said that India’s Act East Policy and the vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) matches President Widodo’s Maritime Fulcrum Policy.

“As mutual partners and neighbours, our worries are similar. It is our duty to ensure maritime security and safety. This is also for the safety of our economic interests,” the prime minister said.

“In the Indo-pacific region, we, as partners, have mutual interests in each other’s progress and well-being and that’s why we have agreed upon mutual vision and principles for the Indo-pacific region,” he said.

Modi also strongly condemned the recent terror strikes on three churches in Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya, and said India stands resolutely with Jakarta in the fight against terror.

“Such tragic incidents give a message that it is the need of the hour to strengthen the efforts being taken on the global level to combat terrorism,” Modi said.

The two countries signed 15 agreements including on the cooperation in the field of defence, space, science and technology, railways and health.

PM Modi said that India and Indonesia will double their efforts to take bilateral trade to USD 50 billion by 2025.

Recalling the visit of ASEAN leaders in January to attend the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, Modi said India-ASEAN partnership can become a guarantee of peace not only in Indo-Pacific region but also beyond it.

A joint statement issued later said that the two leaders discussed the shared vision of the two countries on maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and expressed their willingness to strengthen it for promotion of peace, stability and bringing in robust economic growth and prosperity to the region.

They reiterated the importance of achieving a free, open, transparent, rules-based, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, where sovereignty and territorial integrity, international law, in particular UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development and an open, free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment system are respected, the statement said.

The two sides also acknowledged the need to maintain maritime safety and security for peace, stability and sustainable economic growth and development in the maritime waters of the Indo-Pacific region.

With a coastline of 7,500 kms and more than 1,380 islands and over two million sq. Km of Exclusive Economic Zone, India occupies a central position in the Indo-Pacific, while Indonesia as the largest archipelagic state in the world is a fulcrum that connects the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, the statement said. “The two oceans represent a combined maritime region which is important for global maritime trade and commerce,” it added.

The two sides welcomed the elevation of bilateral relationship to the level of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and creation of new mechanisms like bilateral security dialogue, trilateral dialogue, signing of an enhanced defense cooperation agreement and agreement on cooperation in outer space.

Noting that free and open seas are essential for peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the international community, the statement said the two leaders underscored the importance to address the emerging maritime security issues facing the Indo-Pacific region including the smuggling of people, arms, drugs and money; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and the movement of terrorists.

The two leaders agreed to a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region to harness the opportunities and to meet the challenges together as Comprehensive Strategic Partner.

They also agreed on enhancing trade and investment cooperation, promoting sustainable development of marine resources, expanding cooperation in disaster risk management, fostering tourism and cultural exchanges, promoting maritime safety and security and strengthening academic, science and technology cooperation.

Modi also extended advance Eid greetings to the Indonesian people, saying “on behalf of India’s 1.25 billion people, I wish you prosperity, good health and great success.”

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

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