Indonesia ready to be bridge between powers, says coordinating minister

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan (above) says he is hopeful Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the G-20 summit. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE – As the time for the Group of 20 (G-20) summit approaches, host Indonesia is “ready to be a bridge between powers” and hopes that world leaders can try to find a peaceful solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

In an interview with The Straits Times on Monday, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said he is hopeful that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the summit.

Both leaders previously said they will attend the event, which will be held on the resort island of Bali on Nov 15 and 16. Security arrangements as well as preparations for the arrival of their flights to Indonesia have been made, said Mr Luhut.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the summit, and Mr Luhut said that while things remain fluid, Indonesia will do what it can to lay the groundwork.

“We will see what happens. We are ready to be a bridge between any powers or members of the G-20 during the conference,” said the minister.

Mr Luhut highlighted Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s high credibility, and pointed out that even though Mr Widodo has been meeting various world leaders, Indonesia maintains a very neutral stance and wants to see global tensions de-escalate.

“Everybody should calm down in order to avoid an economic catastrophe in the years to come,” Mr Luhut said. “Otherwise, it could jeopardise millions and millions of people globally.”

In fact, it is the economy that should be the focus for the G-20 and not global politics, stressed Mr Luhut. The G-20 consists of the European Union and 19 countries with the biggest industrialised and emerging economies.

He said that the war in Ukraine has affected the cost of commodities and impacted the issue of food shortages, especially in developing countries.

And there are also concerns that the conflict could escalate. Mr Luhut said nobody knows what will happen in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Hopefully, he said, there will not be use of any nuclear weapons.

“Nobody wants to do that because, in the end, the victims are ordinary people,” he said.

Mr Luhut said Indonesia will continue to do what it can to promote international peace, and that Mr Widodo has asked him to consider travelling to Russia, China and the United States after the G-20 summit, if necessary, to help find peaceful resolutions to any conflict.

Commenting further on the upcoming summit, Mr Luhut said preparations are about 95 per cent done, and only the final touches are pending.

All security preparations have been made, and he is confident that Indonesia has worked very hard to make sure the event will be safe, he added.

The only issue to be finalised is the agenda for the summit, which organisers are working on, said Mr Luhut.

“How do we schedule everything, given all the requests for meetings and all bilateral meetings? There are so many... But it looks good,” he said, adding that he does not foresee any problems.

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