India, Indonesia upgrade ties, decide to have inter-faith dialogue

Jakarta, May 30 : Taking their bilateral relationship into a new era, India and Indonesia on Wednesday agreed to establish a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, condemned terrorism in all its forms, including cross-border terror, and to open an inter-faith dialogue in a bid to eradicate radicalism and violent extremism.

This was agreed to during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo who also came out with a shared vision of India-Indonesia maritime cooperation that seeks to achieve a free, open, transparent, rules-based Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected.

In Modi’s first visit to the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, a joint statement issued after delegation-level talks said that inter-faith dialogue was a reflection of the united commitment of both the countries to explore a new understanding on the rise of religious identities, the dynamic of pluralism and to eradicate radicalism, terrorism and violent extremism.

Both the leaders agreed to organise an inter-faith dialogue in Indonesia in October this year which will be followed by a similar dialogue next year.

Modi and Widodo condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism and terror-related incidents in both the countries and affirmed that perpetrators of thse heinous acts must be brought to justice. Both the leaders also affirmed that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, creed, nationality and ethnicity.

In a joint address to the media, Modi condemned the terror attacks in Indonesia earlier this month and said India stands in solidarity with the people and government of Indonesia.

The two sides signed 15 agreements, including on defence cooperation, that will provide for regular bilateral dialogue and consultation on strategic defence and military issues of common interest and identified cooperation in defence indusrty and technology as areas of great potential.

The two leaders directed officials to expand mutually beneficial collaboration between their defence industries for joint production of equipment, technology transfer, technical assistance and capacity building as well sourcing of defence equipment.

In the shared vision document, the two countries acknowledged the need to maintain maritime safety and security for peace, stability and sustainable economic growth and development in the maritime waters of the Indo-Pacific region as enshrined in the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (Unclos) and relevant international laws.

They welcomed the elevation of the bilateral relationship between the two countries to the level of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and creation of new mechanisms like bilateral security dialogue, signing of an enhanced defence cooperation agreement and frame agreement on cooperation in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes.

Modi told the media that under India’s Act East Policy, the SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region – initiative matches Widodo’s Global Maritime Fulcrum.

While Modi’s SAGAR initiative underscores India enagagement in the Indian Ocean region, Widodo’s Global Maritime Fulcrum seeks to capitalise on Indonesia’s geographic postion to make the southeast Asian nation the “fulcrum” of Indo-Pacific maritime activity.

Modi also said that both sides will double their efforts to take bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2025.

Both sides also agred to set up a joint task force to undertake projects port-related infrastructure in and around Sabang, which, at 90 nautical miles, is the closest port from the easternmost island of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The two sides also agreed to take necessary steps to enhance connectivity (institutional, physical, digital, and paople-to-people) between the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and provinces in Sumatra Island of Indonesia to promote trade, tourism and people-to-people contacts and facilitate B to B linkages between the Chamber of Commerce of Andaman and the ones of the provinces of Sumatra, including Aceh.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Modi and Widodo unveiled a kite exhibition jointly organised by Museum Layang Layang of Jakarta and the Kite Museum of Ahmedabad. The exhibition is themed around the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The two leaders also visited the Istiqlal Mosque here, the largest mosque in southeast Asia, on the occasion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
(IANS)

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