JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Indonesian government welcomes any country, including Singapore, that wants to help extinguish forest and land fires in the country to remove the haze, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has said.
"Go ahead, we are open. Singapore can come and see for themselves if they want to help. Don't just talk (about it)," said Mr Kalla on Sunday (Sept 27) in New York, according to a report by the Antara news agency.
Singapore has previously expressed frustration with Indonesia regarding the smog that has affected the country and expressed its willingness help to battle the fires - offers that Indonesia has so far rejected.
Mr Kalla said that the Indonesian government had worked hard to eliminate the fires but it was difficult to do in a short time.
"The problem is, in addition to the hot weather, the fires in Indonesia are worsened by the wind," he said.
He also cited the example of forest fires in California, which he said also showed the difficulty of extinguishing widespread fires in a short time.
"We have done all that we can do. Since it has affected other countries, if they want to help, then go ahead," he said.
Separately, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she had communicated with Singapore's foreign minister to explain the steps that had been taken by the Indonesian government.
"Indonesia is very serious about solving the issue and the efforts include law enforcement and education," she said.
Singapore's Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam had on Sept 19 called his Indonesian counterpart to express his deep concern over the haze crisis.