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Indonesia, Australia enhance defense and Covid response cooperation

Jakarta Globe - September 10, 2021

Maggie Leung, Jakarta – Indonesia and Australia have agreed to strengthen defense cooperation against terrorism and violent extremism and mulled joint military exercises in the future.

In a ministerial meeting in Jakarta on Thursday, the two neighbors also discussed bilateral relations with special mention on trade, Covid-19 response, regional issues with highlights on Indonesia's leadership in ASEAN and the hot topic of Afghanistan with the discussion of human rights concerns.

The seventh "2+2 meeting" was attended by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Australian counterpart Marise Payne and both countries' defense ministers Prabowo Subianto and Peter Dutton.

Three Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were achieved at the meeting drawing on cyber cooperation and emerging cyber technology, countering terrorism and violent extremism, and arrangement on defense cooperation.

"Our discussion among others focuses on effort to accelerate economic recovery, especially on maximizing the benefit of Indonesia Australia-CEPA as an important tool to strengthen trade and investment cooperation between Indonesia and Australia," Retno said shortly after the meeting.

"I'm also convinced that the MoU on trilateral cooperation with Pacific countries, which Foreign Minister Payne and I signed today, provides a platform for a greater contribution to the region's economic and human development," she added.

Prabowo said there was a discussion on Australia's support and participation in peacekeeping operations and the possibility to enhance defense cooperation through joined military training.

"We have good experience in the past and even up to now the relationship is very strong. And just now, Minister Dutton and myself have signed the Defence Cooperation Arrangement Renewal which will be a very important umbrella document for a comprehensive defense cooperation in the future," Prabowo said.

"We have agreed to work hard to upgrade this arrangement to become an agreement with a stronger umbrella for defence cooperation in the framework of a Strategic Comprehensive Partnership."

Minister Marise Payne said Australia remained important to foster engagement and collaboration, Covid 19 recovery and disaster risk management in Indonesia and the Indo-Pacific in her closing remark.

"As close friends and neighbours, as Comprehensive Strategic Partners, Australia is committed to working with Indonesia in overcoming the shared challenges of Covid-19 throughout the Indo-Pacific region that we share," she said.

Payne then addressed the global pandemic and how it has changed the Indonesia-Australia relationship.

"As we've discussed the impact of Covid-19 in the Indo-Pacific, and on both our countries, and how we can chart a path forward cooperatively to the economic recovery period for which we are both very optimistic," she said.

"That includes through our partnership, the sharing of 1 million AstraZeneca doses with Indonesia, following the delivery of a second 500,000 doses yesterday."

Payne also reaffirmed the strong ties between Indonesia and Australia.

"During President Widodo's visit to Australia in February 2020, our leaders reflected on the strong progress we had made under this partnership. We particularly share a commitment to gender equality. We recognise that women's decision-making and leadership is critical to effective Covid-19 response and recovery efforts," she said.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-australia-enhance-defense-and-covid-response-cooperatio