ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Cameron lauds Indonesia, touts arms sales
Publication Date : 12-04-2012
Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom (UK) arrived in Jakarta on Wednesday, lauding Indonesia’s economic growth and increasing diplomatic clout, which he said could promote peace and speed democratisation in many parts of the world.
Speaking before the press after a bilateral meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Merdeka Palace yesterday, Cameron said that Indonesia could serve a model for nations in the Middle East and North Africa that were currently in the process of developing democratic structures following the fall of authoritarian governments after the so-called Arab Spring.
"The world’s national leaders, whether in Britain, Australia, Germany, or America, should be now asking what Indonesia would think about a particular issue,” Cameron said.
The prime minister arrived at Jakarta’s Halim Perdanakusuma Airport at 12:30 p.m. as the head of a delegation of more than 30 top executives and academics, including the chiefs of British defence contractors such as BAE Systems and Thales.
Cameron said that Indonesia and the UK had launched a “greater cooperation between our armed forces and defence industries to give Indonesia global expertise to modernise its military assets.”
Defence cooperation between the nations is a departure from previous relations, such as in 1999, when the UK government under Tony Blair banned arms sales to Indonesia after British-made Hawk jets were used by the Indonesian Military (TNI) to suppress the separatist insurgency in East Timor, now the nation of Timor Leste.
Cameron said that Indonesia had since transformed itself into “one of the world’s most important democracies.”
Before meeting Yuhoyono at the Palace, Cameron visited Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta and participated in a forum attended by members of the British delegation and top Indonesian executives.
Later, the prime minister was in attendance as Indonesia flag carrier Garuda Indonesia signed a US$2.5 billion deal for 11 Airbus A330 jets powered by UK-made Rolls-Royce engines.
Yudhoyono said his meeting with Cameron resulted in a new joint public-private programme that would tackle illegal deforestation worldwide and that he and Cameron agreed to enhance inter-faith dialogue.
On education, Yudhoyono said he and Cameron agreed to increase the number of Indonesians studying in the UK.
Cameron said he had delivered to Yudhoyono an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to make a state visit to the UK in October for the Diamond Jubilee marking the 60th year of the queen’s reign. Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that Yu-dhoyono would attend.
Before departing for Kuala Lumpur on Thursday at 10 a.m., Cameron has been scheduled to deliver a speech at Al-Azhar University.