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Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (EAST) in Jakarta during Prime Minister's visit to Indoensia

June 01, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Good afternoon and a very warm welcome to all of you in this special press briefing from Jakarta. Indonesia is the first leg of the Prime Minister’s visit to three countries. This morning Prime Minister had a meeting with Indonesian President and to give you a detailed summary of Prime Minister’s meeting with the President and other engagements I have with me Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Smt. Preeti Saran. I also have our Ambassador to Indonesia and Jt. Secretary (South) who will be briefing you all on Prime Minister’s visit and his talks with the Indonesian leadership. Ma’am the floor is yours.

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: Thank you. Good afternoon dear friends and thank you for kindly joining us this afternoon. I know you also have a very busy schedule along with our Prime Minister’s program. So you are familiar with what has happened since this morning, I will not repeat that. It’s really the visit to the War Memorial where our Prime Minister laid wreath in the memory of the fallen soldiers and those who fought for the independence and then he went to the Presidential Palace where he was given a ceremonial welcome followed by restricted meeting that he had with the President of Indonesia. I think you were all there to have captured some of the photographs of that.

That meeting was originally scheduled for a much shorter period but clearly our leaders have developed an amazing chemistry and warmth between themselves. They have been seeing each other since 2014 when our Prime Minister and President Widodo met in 2014 at Nay Pyi Taw and thereafter there last meeting was in January this year when president Jokowi came to India for the ASEAN India summit as one of the 10 chief guest for Republic day. So really the tete-a-tete lasted much longer than scheduled followed by delegation level talks then there was exchange of agreements and media statement which you would have already been familiar with.

Immediately after this meeting I think we will be leaving very shortly for another major event which is really a business and community event and thereafter President Jokowi is hosting a banquet in honor of our Prime Minister. So that is the broad outline of official program that took place today. I have already mentioned that in the tete-a-tete they have developed a very strong equation our two leaders and in the discussions our Prime Minister thanked President Jokowi very profusely that despite the holy month of Ramadan he had kindly received our Prime Minister and the rest of his delegation and for the warmth and Hospitality that has been extended to our Prime Minister in the holy month of Ramadan in fact he conveyed the greetings on his behalf and on behalf of 1.2 billion Indians on this auspicious occasion.

Beginning the talks our Prime Minister mentioned how with this visit, his first visit to Indonesia which is the largest country in the ASEAN region, it has brought India and Indonesia very close together but who are not only our maritime neighbours but actually, he used the word, Our closest neighbor with ancient links which has gained new strengths. The discussions focused on three areas primarily. Defence and security, economic cooperation and socio-cultural and people to people contacts. It also reiterated the closeness that India has to ASEAN, how India is already closely integrated with ASEAN. He recalled the Summit which President Jokowi had visited, and also recalled that during that summit one of the floats that were on display on our Republic Day parade, for the first time in fact we had foreign content to display. It being a national day mostly we really showcase our defence and cultural content but in that a specific mentioned was made of the "Bali Jatra.”

You would remember since you would have covered that event as well which has very strong connections to Indonesia in building our ancient links and of course in that context of India ASEAN relations, of closer integration with ASEAN, our Prime Minister also mentioned the centrality of ASEAN in the regional security architecture in the Indo-pacific region.

Our Prime Minister also recalled the excellent cooperation that India and Indonesia enjoy in the context of the IORA where Indonesia has shown great leadership and of course Prime Minister along with President Jokowi inaugurated the Kite Festival and the logo for the celebration of 70 years of India-Indonesia diplomatic relations. And finally of course he conveyed his very best wishes for the Asian Games that will be held in Indonesia later this year.

In terms of substantive outcomes, you have seen the exchange of agreements, the announcements of agreements that was held. Two documents have been issued at the end. We have copies which will be available to you. So the focus that I’d like to draw your attention to would be the joint statement that has been issued at the end of the official talks.

A document called the "Shared Vision of India and Indonesia: Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific” is the first document of this nature that we have signed with a country in this region. So obviously it has huge importance especially when our Prime Minister is on a visit to three ASEAN countries.

From Indonesia tomorrow he will be very briefly calling on Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad in Malaysia and then of course he will be going to Singapore where he will be delivering the keynote address at the 17th Shangri La Dialogue. So this particular document takes on importance for us.

A key outcome of the discussions between our two leaders was that our strategic partnership that we have had with Indonesia was elevated to a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This is the first time that we have had this shared vision document issued with a country in this region which focuses on outlining comprehensive areas of our maritime cooperation and economic cooperation in that context, development of a blue economy, infrastructure including port infrastructure and the security architecture in the Indo-Pacific.

There were several agreements signed including a defence cooperation agreement, a space agreement, a joint task force to develop port infrastructure in and around Sabang and cooperation in building connectivity with Andaman and Aceh province of Indonesia. There was call for early renewal of civil nuclear cooperation.

Prime Minister had earlier issued messages after that horrific attack in Surabaya and once again Prime Minister used the opportunity to convey his deepest condolences on this terrible tragedy that had taken place and the two leader together realized that this is the need once again for the global community to come together to combat terrorism. Both sides condemned cross-border terrorism and called for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

A total of nine government to government MoUs were signed including defence and space, science &technology, railways, pharmaceuticals which again was a very important component.Realizing the strength of India’s generic drugs in the pharmaceutical sector there was a lot of interest expressed on the part of Indonesia and our willingness to infact collaborate with Indonesia including encouraging Indian investors to invest in the sector and policy planning and research, training and capacity building.

There are 5 other agreements that will be announced during the business event which you will be hearing about. CII, the Confederation of Indian Industries will open, for the first time, in Indonesia. That shows the focus of attention on enhancing trade. Already Indonesia is India’s largest trading partner in the ASEAN region, the trade is to the amount of $16 billion but recalling the eminent persons group report there has been discussion that it is far below the potential and that we should enhance it to $50 billion as the target by 2025, which I think can be met given the interest that was strong business component in this visit which you will be witnessing in an hour’s time from now. And the fact that CII has decided to establish its office for the first time here, that there is a CEOs forum that has been activated which will be presenting its recommendations to the leaders.

Moving on to capacity building, there was training, personnel exchange between the LalBahadurShastri Academy in Mussoorie and the National Institute of Public Administration in Indonesia. I have already mentioned the launching of the logo of the celebration of 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations which will be observed next year and in that context Festival of India in Indonesia and Festival of Indonesia in India would be a major highlight where we will talk in terms to highlight the activities that focus on all the three pillars of our relationship. This includes an important component of interfaith dialogue. In fact there was an agreement that we would convene interfaith dialogue in October this year. Kite exhibition you have seen firsthand yourself, how beautifully it recaptures our very close ancient cultural linkages with the themes of Ramayana and Mahabharata at the iconic site of the National Museumbringing two museums of Jakarta and Ahmedabad closer together.

These are the broad highlights. Details are of course available on the website and also the two documents that are issued at the end of the visit. You would also have heard our Prime Minister’s press statement and President Jokowi’s statement as well which gives you a fair idea about the importance both leaders have attached and a fresh impetus that has been given to this relationship which has brought it to the elevated stage of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. I’ll stop here and be happy to take questions.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you Ma’am. There are at least three documents which we have already uploaded on our website. The first is the joint statement signed between India and Indonesia, the second is the vision document which is also uploaded and the third is the list of documents which were signed between the two sides.

Question:It is regarding the Sabang sea port, what is the decision that has been taken from what I have gone through so far I have not been able to get that information?

Question:I have two questions. One is what is the difference between strategic partnership which has been elevated to the comprehensive strategic partnership so if you can elucidate on the additional features which makes it comprehensive. And my second question is trip gave me an opportunity to meet the expat community here and the Indonesians of the Indian origin. I was very surprised to find that the basic concern was to access the educational and the health infrastructure in India and things which are available in London and Manhattan, like for example, not finding basmati rice in Jakarta and even articles like bhujiya and other Indian condiments or tea, is our establishment aware of it because it is a prosperous hard working community here and I could take this feedback when the preparations for the Prime Minister’s visit to local town hall was taking place, they talked about it on record, so these are my two questions.

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran:Thank you for those questions.As far as SabangSeaport is concerned, you know that in fact it is the closest port from the easternmost island of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.It is really about 90 nautical miles and therefore that makes the location Sabang very important for us in building connectivity from the perspective of enhancing tourism, addressing issues of the blue economy including fisheries sector and of course in terms of connectivity.

It was decided that a joint task force will be set up to address the issues of or to explore areas of collaboration that can be handled in the context of developing port infrastructure in Sabang and this joint task force will be meeting shortly.Now that our leaders have given us instructions and we will be working on the details.

Question Contd.:Since you have spoken about the development of the infrastructure there and India's role, I wanted to know whether there would be access to Indian Naval ships as well to the Sabang seaport because there have been reports that have come in the media saying that this is around 45 meters deep and there is a possibility of submarines being docked there later. I mean these are all opinions that have come into the public domain, so just wanted clarity on the military access besides the economic aspect that you refer to.

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran:No, I don't think these details were discussed. It is a that Sabang has its limitations in terms of being a deep sea port but what was discussed and shared was the fact that there are several Indian companies that have the capability and are interested in building port Infrastructure including sea ports and container ports and airports. So really connectivity was a wider one including airservices etc.So in the larger context of Sabang details were not discussed but there is potential for discussing all areas of collaboration with the active participation of Indian and Indonesian companies.So this is where Sabang is concerned.

Moving onto what makes comprehensive different from a strategic partnership. A Comprehensive partnership will, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, cover all aspects of an already very strong relationship. The relationship is pegged on, as I mentioned, security and defence, on economic trade and investment and culture and people to people contact.

Given the fact that we have strong ancient links and you will see very visible signs of it in this city itself. The fact that together The Kite Festival recalled the themes of Ramayana and Mahabharata which are so visible, the fact that Bhasha Indonesia has very strong linkages to Indian languages and you can see the familiarity of the names etc. itself is a project worth exploring and doing about how language links us so strong.

How does it becomes comprehensive is when we are able to elevate whether it is in terms of security. You already know that we have had the first NSA level security dialogue for the first time with Indonesia in January this year.We have had the 2nddefence ministers meeting in January again this year. We have had the joint Commission meeting again in January this year. In all three meeting there was discussion on how to further enhance our mutual interests in enhancing cooperation in defence and security.As far as defence is concerned, we have coordinated Patrols with our two navies.

There is of course a desire on the part of both sides to have bilateral exercises of the two Navies, to have a wide shipping agreement and collaboration with the two coast guards. Cyber security is yet another very important element. The fact that security in the high seas is yet another element of HADR related activities where again there is a scope for collaboration, of maritime domain awareness where again there is interest on both sides. So these are the areas where we will be talking as new areas for collaboration which enhances it from a strategic partnership to a comprehensive one.

Comprehensive again, in the context of trade and investment has to be interpreted where the desire of the leaders, where they say that we should target for $50 billion trade by 2025 itself is a very strong directive to our industries. The factthat India and you will be hearing more of it from our Prime Minister about the kind of reforms that have been undertaken in the recent years, how India is a better place to do business and for investments.How we can attract more Indonesian investments into India as Indonesia has so far attracted some very good Investments in several sectors including infrastructure.So that is where there will be this desire and a push for doing a more comprehensive,more broad-based, a stronger economic relationship.

And as far as cultural links are concerned I am sure next year celebrations of the 70th anniversary and the festivals that we will celebrate in each other’s countries will once again recall the strong cultural linkages. On tourism there have been discussions for a task force to come to Delhi for talks on enhancing greater connectivity in the Civil Aviation Sector.

Simultaneously there is interest in strengthening our Maritime linkages, of early conclusion and you will see that reflected in the document, early conclusion of the ASEAN India Maritime Cooperation agreement. These are elements which will certainly enhance greater people to people connectivity,on how we can maybe liberalize our visa regimes to encourage more tourist traffic, again is an area of collaboration. So tourism is a very strong component of our strengthening people-to-people linkages.

Capacity building training, you did mention the fact there is an interest on part of the community here to connect with Indian institutions. I think it is a compliment to the Indian institutions that there is a desire not to go elsewhere and seek admissions into some premier Indian institutions. We would be very happy to encourage greater linkages. Already we have decided on a few agreements including training of civil servants and collaboration of premier training institutes that train civil servants between the two countries, which is yet another area of education that can be strengthened further.

Moving on to the demands of Indian community for need for condiments etc. I think that is not specific just to Indonesia, I think that is generally applicable to wherever there is Indian diaspora. And today we have very strong Indian diaspora of about 28 million people all over the world. Where the number are larger obviously the access to condiments or any other cultural content, cuisine content is more easily available. For example in USA you will not find that impediment but where the community size is smaller, it is really a demand and supply situation.

So if there is greater demand obviously there is greater business interest and commercial requirement of more and more of such goods being traded and brought in, they will be brought in. But I think that we would be having, I think in the discussions we did talk about, our trade ministers meet biennially. The fact that the trade ministers will meet frequently and regularly again makes it incumbent upon the officials to look at all the issues which have proved to be impediments to market access, whether it is trade in goods, trade in services or in investments. We would be looking at all of them to remove those impediments.

Speaker 1: On the supply of or availability of certain items which you referred, again you need to qualify, for example if you go to the Sumatra side where there is a large Tamil community possibly you won’t hear this because there is lot of things that are available readily. So it could be something in Jakarta, could be certain items particularly not being available.

Now there could be two issues, one is the supply chain issue but also certain times what happens that there are quarantine issues, if there is a consignment coming in and is found to contain certain things which happens with agriculture commodities world over, it could be those issues but whenever these issues are reflected to us, given the strong, as Secretary mentioned, dialogue channel with ministry of Trade that we have, we have Ministerial level channel and under that ministerial level channel there are dedicated working groups. So we do have these channels, we do take up these issues through those channels and try and resolve these issues to the satisfaction of the community.

Certainly, what Secretary mentioned that if quantities needed are small, sometimes that also becomes a challenge because unless a lot of people combine together and order say a certain quantity which is minimum quantity to import, those kind of issues also become relevant in these matters.

Question:Commercial agreement par bhikaafijortha CII ka ek overseas branch khulnewalahai, DIPP Secretary Ramesh Abhishek bhiaaye hue hain, Tata trucks ke supply kolekarbhihumneek agreement dekha, to usmeikyathos outcomes rahehainyaani commercial kshetramein?

Question:Two quick questions, one is how is this new defence agreement? An upgrade or is it form the previous one that we had in 2001 and has the defence agreement been renewed simply or are there added features this time around? And second on the imbalance in trade, whether that issue was taken up between the two leaders or whether during the CEOs forum that issue was discussed or in the reports that would be presented, some recommendations on that aspect would be presented?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran:Both are trade related questions. Yes, the CEOs have met and I think they will be presenting their report to the two leaders today and we will hear from their report whether they have specifically pointed out any issues whether it is trade imbalance etc. What was agree in general terms was that trade officials at the highest level and trade ministers will meet more often.

There are specific issues whether is pharmaceutical goods from our side or crude palm oil from their side, which would be discussed in greater detail, but that is left to the experts who will be meeting very shortly after our Prime Minister return back.

What were the concrete outcomes, pharmaceuticals as I told you was something for which already there is presence but there is an interest in importing more and attracting more Indian investments into Indonesia in this sector to help in accessing affordable medicines. You have already mentioned the fact that there was this water canon that was on display at the Monash which again itself is a symbolic one potential for greater collaboration of business to business in defence equipment procurement. So that also has a very strong trade and investment dimension, so that is a concrete one.

I’ll just read out some of the more important G2G as well as B2B MoUs that have been signed in the course of this visit apart from the CEOs forum and their report, just at the government to government level. The science and technology agreement is not just for the sake of science, it is always science, technology and innovation related to commercial aspect.

Health is yet another important one focused on drugs and pharmaceuticals. Then MoU on technical cooperation in the railways sector where Indian railways being the government entity will also in some ways both enhance trade, strengthen connectivity within Indonesia and also help in capacity building and modernization of the railways here in Indonesia. I think the whole list is available with you so you can just see what the areas of focus in the business are.

As far as defence, it was a renewal of the earlier defence cooperation MoU however there is a desire for strengthening areas of cooperation. As I mentioned navy to navy cooperation. Currently we undertake coordinated patrols but now there is agreement from both sides that our navies should have bilateral exercises. Now that itself is an upgrade in the relationship.

The fact that cyber security is an important common challenge that both sides face. As far as maritime cooperation is concerned there are several security related issues. The fact that our coast guards are in readiness to sign what is called White Shipping Agreement, it was not signed this time but the fact that there is an agreement for greater collaboration amongst the coast guards from both sides itself is very significant and a new element in this relationship.

So there are both elements of greater collaboration in maritime domain awareness, greater collaboration in procuring equipment from both sides as there are strengths that Indonesia would have and there are strengths that we have where we can work together in procuring them and greater collaboration in doing joint exercises, capacity building, learning from each other. That is where this particular MoU with this renewal will give greater impetus to additional areas of cooperation.

Question:
Were there any discussion on this One Belt One Road initiative and the Indo-Pacific?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran:Indo-Pacific, you know India and Indonesia are both part of the Indo-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific Vision Document itself talks in terms of our common view on the Indo-Pacific being an open, inclusive waters for freedom of navigation and over flight for adhering to rules bases system notable for UNCLOS. Now these are elements which are of common vision, we have a shared vision and a world view about the Indo-Pacific which is outlined in this document. So it was definitely discussed.

Question:……………. Inaudible …………..

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran:There was this challenge which was acknowledged that it is a menace and a scourge that should be met with globally. And there was also recognition that cross border terrorism is a scourge and that acknowledgement, that collectively the global community where India and Indonesia are important partners in working towards a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism are very important developments.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:There are at least two paragraphs, I think, in the joint statement which very clearly states our view on terrorism.

Since there are no other questions, this concludes the press briefing. Thank you Ma’am and thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

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