Singapore and Jakarta discuss new ways to boost bilateral cooperation

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan with Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi on July 16, 2019.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan with Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi on July 16, 2019.PHOTO: MFA

JAKARTA - Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi had productive discussions on Tuesday (July 16) on how Singapore and Indonesia could find new areas to strengthen bilateral cooperation, and on preparations for the annual Leaders' Retreat, set to be held in Singapore this year.

They also reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral relations between their two countries, spoke about regional developments, and underscored their shared commitment towards strengthening Asean centrality and unity.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday (July 16) that the ministers reviewed as well the good discussions between the transport ministries and civil aviation authorities of both countries over the past few months on the issue of the Flight Information Region (FIR), and noted that discussions will continue.

Ms Retno told reporters after her meeting with Dr Balakrishnan, who is in Jakarta for a three-day working visit, that they discussed the FIR comprehensively, but that she could not disclose more yet.

"I can only say that the two countries have an understanding, and are making progress in this," she said.

She added that Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi had sent a letter last month to his partner in Singapore to discuss Indonesia's proposals on the FIR over the Riau Islands.

She stressed that the matter of the FIR had nothing to do with sovereignty - a stance Singapore has echoed. Singapore has repeatedly made the point that the issue is a technical one based on aviation safety, and not one of sovereignty.

Ms Retno said the FIR was about flight traffic management, adding that the Indonesian government has the capacity to ensure aviation safety.

Singapore has been in control of flights in the airspace above some areas in Riau since 1946, and the current set of agreements was approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Earlier on Tuesday (July 16), Dr Balakrishnan met Indonesia's Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto over lunch. The ministers welcomed the robust collaboration between Singapore and Indonesia in a diverse range of areas, including investments, vocational and technical education, and human resource development, said MFA.

Dr Balakrishnan will be in Jakarta till Thursday (July 18).