Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi to visit Singapore as both countries mark ties

Ms Retno will pay a courtesy call on PM Lee during her visit next week, and follow up with Dr Balakrishnan on bilateral deals.
Ms Retno will pay a courtesy call on PM Lee during her visit next week, and follow up with Dr Balakrishnan on bilateral deals.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will visit Singapore next Thursday and Friday to meet her counterpart, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, kicking off a series of events to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Events will be held nearly every month in each country to "forge closer ties, from educational activities to recreational runs", said Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir.

He added that Ms Retno will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as well as follow up with Dr Balakrishnan on bilateral agreements covering maritime and economic cooperation, which were raised when Indonesian President Joko Widodo met PM Lee during the Leaders' Retreat in Semarang, Central Java, last November.

But top of the agenda for the visit would be discussions on a sea border treaty that Indonesia signed with Singapore in 2014 and which was ratified by the Indonesian Parliament last December, as well as cooperation in counter-terrorism, according to Mr Arrmanatha.

The pact covers a 9.45km border in the eastern part of the Strait of Singapore between Changi and Batam. It indicates areas belonging to the two sides - critical for upholding sovereignty and enforcing the law.

Mr Arrmanatha said: "We still have some outstanding border delimitation issues which we will try to intensify the negotiations on."

Discussions will also centre on intelligence- and information-sharing, as well as how the two countries can better deal with the potential rise of terrorism in the region.

The Singapore Armed Forces and the Indonesian military have been collaborating through exercises, professional exchanges and the attendance of courses.

Ms Retno will also be delivering a public lecture at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies on how Mr Joko's administration deals with conflicts with other nations.

Singapore established formal diplomatic relations with Indonesia in 1967, and both countries have enjoyed an enduring relationship despite some tensions over issues such as the annual haze brought about by land and forest fires, as well as the control of airspace navigation.

Singapore remains Indonesia's largest foreign investor. Both states are also each other's top sources of tourist arrivals.

For the first nine months of last year, Singapore companies invested almost US$7.1 billion (S$10 billion) in Indonesia, double that for the same period in 2015, Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade), said at a business seminar last month.

He had said that the two countries achieved much together, and hoped for more business collaborations in the future, adding: "Our excellent bilateral economic relations today are something we can be proud of."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline 'Indonesian minister to visit S'pore as both nations mark ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe