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Indonesia, US presidents to hold bilateral talks in Bali
Publication Date : 01-10-2013
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, with security in regions such as the South China Sea and the Middle East expected to be the focus of the talks.
As of Monday, no cancellation had been made for the attendance of the leaders of the 21 member economies, including Obama, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official, despite a political face-off in the US over its government’s proposal to raise the country’s debt ceiling.
Sources at the State Palace and the Foreign Ministry said the Yudhoyono-Obama meeting had been on the table but yet to be put into the official agenda, pending finalisation of a suitable time and location for the meeting.
Presidential spokesman for foreign affairs Teuku Faizasyah, acknowledged that the government had been arranging bilateral talks between Yudhoyono and several heads of government on the sidelines of the Summit but refused to go into detail.
“I cannot disclose with whom the President will have the bilateral meetings as the schedules are not final yet. The only fixed bilateral meeting as of today is with the President of Mexico [Enrique Peña Nieto] which is scheduled to be held on Oct. 6,” he told The Jakarta Post.
The Apec meeting will be held from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8, but most of the leaders will arrive on Oct. 6 to join Apec CEO Summit and Apec Economic leaders’ Meeting.
Faizasyah said that more than half of the 21 Apec Leaders had proposed bilateral meetings with Yudhoyono but only five slots were available.
“Because the available time is limited, we assess the proposals based on the ‘first come first serve’ principle and the importance of the issues proposed to be discussed,” he said.
Yudhoyono would have bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, another official with the State Palace said.
Trilateral meetings between Yudhoyono, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang had also been planned, the official said.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key had also filed a request to have a bilateral meeting with Yudhoyono but, as of Monday, there had been no response from the Indonesian government.
Obama’s meeting with Yudhoyono would likely be part of US’ policy of rebalancing relationship priorities in the world aimed at strengthening Washington’s pivot in the Asia-Pacific region.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, during his visit to Jakarta last month confirmed sales of eight Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and Longbow radars worth US$500 million to the Indonesian Military (TNI).
The deal has marked a turn around in the two countries’ defense cooperation as it served as the largest military sale from the US since Washington lifted its embargo on selling lethal arms to Indonesia in 2005.
Washington was said to be determined to help build the capability of the TNI as part of its bid to enhance security ties with its Asia Pacific friends and reshape its role in the region amid Beijing’s growing military clout and territorial assertiveness.
As for Yudhoyono, talks about strengthening Jakarta-Washington cooperation would also be among the important issues to be discussed during the meeting.
But, it was also expected that the leaders of the superpower and Southeast Asia’s biggest economy would likely raise issues in the region, such as the crisis in Syria and South China Sea.
Yudhoyono has called on nations to promote dialogue and peaceful approaches to settle the conflict in Syria, particularly after the chemical attack that allegedly killed hundreds of people.
The University of Indonesia’s international law expert, Hikmahanto Juwana, said Yudhoyono must raise the Syria issue with Obama to ensure that Washington would only endorse solutions under the UN framework.