Former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called Mr S R Nathan "a great friend of Indonesia" when he visited the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta yesterday to pay his last respects to former president Nathan, who died on Monday, aged 92.
"For me, President Nathan was a great son of Singapore, a great educator, leader and statesman. He was also a great friend of Indonesia," Dr Yudhoyono said after he signed the condolence book.
The two former heads of state met on many occasions, including during Dr Yudhoyono's first state visit to Singapore in early 2005, four months after he was elected Indonesia's sixth president.
The former general in the Indonesian military (TNI) yesterday recalled the first time he met Mr Nathan in 1998, when Mr Nathan was Singapore's Ambassador-at- Large and director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) at the Nanyang Technological University.
"When he was head of the IDSS, he invited me, as the TNI chief of staff for political and social affairs, to speak on Indonesia's reforms... and I praised his deep understanding of the situation that was faced by Indonesia at that time. Since then, we have had a close relationship."
Dr Yudhoyono added that their friendship grew after he and Mr Nathan became president and they continued to have regular discussions on issues relevant to the region, including Asean, East Asia, and the South China Sea, as well as Singapore-Indonesia cooperation.
"I understood his strong spirit to build a close and better partnership, friendship with Indonesia," said Dr Yudhoyono, who served two five-year terms as president before stepping down in 2014.
Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi will represent her country at the state funeral for Mr Nathan today.