Jakarta, Riyadh pledge to strengthen ties

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and his Indonesian counterpart, Ms Retno Marsudi, agreed that the two countries can do more to strengthen their economic partnership at the Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission Meeting in Jakarta yesterday. Th
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and his Indonesian counterpart, Ms Retno Marsudi, agreed that the two countries can do more to strengthen their economic partnership at the Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission Meeting in Jakarta yesterday. They also agreed to boost cooperation in areas such as fighting terrorism and radicalism.PHOTO: REUTERS

Economy, anti-terror cooperation also on foreign ministers' agenda

Indonesia and Saudi Arabia pledged to strengthen their economic partnership and step up cooperation in counter-terrorism during a meeting overshadowed by the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

His death was the first topic tackled by the foreign ministers of both countries at a briefing after a high-level bilateral meeting yesterday to review cooperation in the past year.

At the briefing, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said investigations into the incident will be thorough. His Indonesian counterpart, Ms Retno Marsudi, said: "We understand that this meeting comes amid a situation that has grabbed everyone's attention, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Because of that, in the meeting, I conveyed Indonesia's position on the case."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his concern over the killing during his meeting with Mr al-Jubeir on Monday. He said Indonesia hopes the investigations are carried out transparently and thoroughly - a call Ms Retno repeated yesterday.

Mr al-Jubeir reiterated that Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are committed to "see to it that the investigations are thorough and complete, and that the truth is revealed, and that those responsible will be held to account, and procedures and mechanisms are put into place to ensure something like this will never happen again".

Mr al-Jubeir's visit to Indonesia is a follow-up to the one made by King Salman in March last year.

At the Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission Meeting yesterday, Ms Retno said they agreed to boost collaboration in countering terrorism and radicalism, including through training, and the sharing of intelligence.

A draft memorandum of understanding is being prepared.

Both foreign ministers agreed that the two countries can do more to strengthen their economic partnership. Said Mr al-Jubeir: "We believe that the size of trade and investment between our two countries is not commensurate with the size of our two economies, so we're rolling up our sleeves to try to move towards more investment, more trade.

"We've seen progress in the last three years and we hope to have more progress."

 
 

The perennial issue of foreign worker protection cropped up once more. Ms Retno said she welcomed the Saudi government's commitment to continue improving the protection for the more than 600,000 Indonesians living and working in Saudi Arabia.

She added that her Saudi counterpart had spoken to the President about some of the steps his country has taken, including introducing laws regulating minimum wages.

Mr al-Jubeir paid tribute to the deep historic ties and many similarities between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, and said the joint commission will help take the bond between the two countries forward.

He said: "We share a faith... We believe in the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law.

"We believe in trying to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, and we work very closely on issues of mutual concern, whether it's Palestine, whether it's resolving conflicts in the Islamic world, whether it's development.

"And so the joint commission that we have is one of those mechanisms that tie the many elements of our governments together."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'Jakarta, Riyadh pledge to strengthen ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe