Cameron, Jokowi discuss trade and ISIS threat

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo chat while at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 27, 2015.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo chat while at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 27, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA • British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that his government would make available loans of up to £1 billion (S$2.1 billion) to Indonesia to help finance infrastructure projects.

Mr Cameron, who arrived in Jakarta yesterday, met Indonesian President Joko Widodo, after which he said the pair had agreed to step up efforts to combat the "evil threat" posed by the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Indonesia is Mr Cameron's first stop on a four-day trade mission to South-east Asia to spur business deals and to forge new political alliances to counter Islamist extremism.

The British government said the financing for South-east Asia's largest economy could pave the way for £200 million worth of Indonesian exports to Britain.

Possible projects include a £400 million sewage treatment system for Jakarta, and geothermal power projects worth £66 million.

Mr Cameron wants to expand trade links with the rest of the world to compensate for Britain's dependence on trade with Europe, parts of which are mired in an economic funk. "There is a great opportunity for a free trade agreement, but we shouldn't wait for that," he told reporters before meeting Mr Joko.

"There are great opportunities to work together in insurance, infrastructure, Internet services... and in many other areas as well."

Apart from trade, the two leaders also discussed the terrorism threat. In a joint statement after their meeting, they said: "We have agreed to step up our joint efforts both to tackle the terrorist threat and to counter the extremist narrative." It added that ISIS was a "shared enemy".

Mr Cameron said Britain would provide support for counter-terrorism efforts in Indonesia, which is the world's most populous Muslim- majority country and has long struggled with Islamist extremism.

Measures will include helping to improve security at airports, enhanced cooperation on terrorism investigations and the training of Indonesian police officers in Britain.

Mr Cameron, who is accompanied by 30 British business leaders and his Minister of State for Trade Francis Maude, will next visit Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Cameron, Jokowi discuss trade and ISIS threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe