Jakarta, Moscow sign pact on defence cooperation

Malaysian PM Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor taking part in the traditional bread and salt welcome ceremony on their arrival at Sochi on Wednesday.
Malaysian PM Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor taking part in the traditional bread and salt welcome ceremony on their arrival at Sochi on Wednesday.PHOTO: EPA

SOCHI (Russia) • The presidents of Russia and Indonesia signed an agreement on cooperation in the defence sector at a meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday as Moscow seeks to cement its ties with Asian powerhouses amid Western sanctions.

Full details of the deal, signed by Russia's Mr Vladimir Putin and Indonesia's Mr Joko Widodo, were not immediately available. "We have agreed to widen contacts between (the) defence ministries and security agencies," Mr Putin said at a joint briefing with Mr Joko.

Indonesia's President said Russia and Indonesia agreed on exchanges of intelligence information. The two countries also signed agreements in the sectors of archives, culture and fisheries.

Earlier on Wednesday, the head of Russia's arms export agency, Mr Alexander Fomin, said Russia would like to produce military munitions in Indonesia, including shells. He added that Indonesia was interested in Russian submarines and jets.

On Tuesday, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said Russia would sign deals with Indonesia to supply unspecified arms and for ammunition to be manufactured under licence.

Russia, the world's second-largest arms exporter after the US, plans to sell arms worth US$14 billion (S$19 billion) this year. Its total portfolio of arms orders currently stands at more than US$50 billion.

In a separate development, Mr Putin has indicated he is ready to discuss the issue of the downing of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine in 2014 with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak this week, according to Mr Ushakov.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board.

Mr Joko and Datuk Seri Najib are in Sochi to attend the Asean-Russia Commemorative Summit, which kicked off yesterday.

REUTERS, THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2016, with the headline 'Jakarta, Moscow sign pact on defence cooperation'. Print Edition | Subscribe