India to play role in securing Malacca Straits sea-lanes
Jakarta, June 18: Underlining the need to secure sea lanes of the Indian Ocean, India today expressed its readiness to play a role in protecting the Malacca Straits as it decided to enhance defence cooperation with Indonesia
India and Indonesia also agreed on a plan of action to implement the strategic partnership in a "clear and measurable manner" after a joint commission meeting between the two sides co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his counterpart Hassan Wirajuda in Jakarta.
Addressing a joint press conference with Wirajuda, Mukherjee said India was conscious of the need to secure sea lanes of Indian Ocean through which 60 per cent of world's energy is supplied.
"There is a growing presence of terrorists and non-state actors requiring attention of littoral states and the international community so that mercantile trade and supply of energy can be ensured," he said.
"We always keep in view sensitivities of the littoral states. Whatever role they expect us to play, we will be glad to do so," Mukherjee added.
Mukherjee is on a four-day visit to Indonesia and Singapore to give a push to India's "look east" policy.
The meeting of the two ministers assumes significance as it follows the "new strategic partnership" forged by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
during the state visit of the former to India in November 2005.
Appreciating the convening of the first Joint Defence Cooperation Committee
on 12-14 June 2007 in Jakarta, the two countries expressed satisfaction at the increase in visits of mps, military officials, trade missions, academicians, and people-to-people exchanges over the past few years.
The commission focused on a wide-ranging subjects including defence and security, transportation, economy and investment possibilities, health, education and training, science and technology, tourism and culture, technical cooperation and legal cooperation.
"The deliberations of the commission and the constructive and friendly atmosphere in which they were conducted give us great confidence in the further development of our bilateral relations," Mukherjee remarked.
"It is a matter of satisfaction that we have also finalised a 'plan of action for the implementation of the new strategic partnership' between India and Indonesia,"
Mukherjee said, terming the plan as a "blue print" for the realisation of the strategic partnership between the two countries.
The minister also called on Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and discussed investment possibilities, importance of institutional arrangements between the two countries, and greater possibilities of training.
The Indian delegation expressed appreciation at the extension of visa on arrival facilities to Indian nationals by Indonesia.
The two sides also identified new fields of cooperation such as Special Economic Zones (SEZ), development of alternative energy sources and the conclusion of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in criminal matters and extradition treaty.
Cooperation in health and pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, and mining, biotechnology and women's empowerment have also been identified as new areas of cooperation between Asia's two largest pluralistic democracies.
The Indonesian side welcomed India's offer to assist in the restoration work at the Prambanan temple complex, the largest Hindu temple in java that was damaged by the tsunami in 2004.
Both sides also agreed to cooperate closely in the hospitality and tourism sector as well.
As a symbol of India's role in re-construction of tsunami-hit Aceh, a memorandum of understanding on setting up a vocational training centre for the construction sector in Aceh was signed by Mukherjee and Indonesian Minister of Public Works Djoko Kirmanto.
Indonesia is India's third largest trade partner in the 10-member ASEAN region with a trade volume of 4.79 billion dollars last year. The two countries have set up a trade target of 10 billion dollars for 2010.
Mukherjee travels to Singapore tomorrow where he will launch the Indian business forum that is expected to benefit over 2,500 Indian companies operating in that country.