Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia and Malaysia have already been negotiating their borders for way too long, and it is time for the two neighbors to reach a conclusion, according to their senior diplomats.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir is currently on his first official visit to Indonesia since his appointment earlier this month.
The newly appointed minister on Thursday afternoon met with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi in Jakarta.
As expected, the border dispute became one of the issues raised at the bilateral meeting.
"We have been negotiating our maritime borders since 2005. That is why it is important for us to expedite the negotiations, and to immediately settle the maritime borders of the Sulawesi Sea and the southernmost part of the Malacca Strait," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at a joint press briefing.
On land borders, the two countries have agreed to speed up negotiations on the demarcation of Sebatik Island, an island off the eastern coast of Borneo. Sebatik Island is partly within both Indonesia and Malaysia.
The two countries also wish to settle the dispute on the Sinapad-Sesai segment, according to Retno.
"We aim for the memorandum of understanding [MoU] to be signed next year," Retno said.
Both Malaysia and Indonesia were also committed to finalizing their agreements on border-crossing and border trade, Retno told reporters.
"The two agreements will support the cross-border activities and the economy of our citizens in the borders," she said
At the presser, Zambry affirmed Malaysia's commitment to settling the border dispute.
"I assure you that Malaysia remains committed to settling the maritime and land borders," Zambry said. Zambry is expected to meet with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Friday.
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim also plans to visit Indonesia early next year.