Foreign Affairs/US-Indonesia Relations

US and Indonesia Differ Over UN Resolution

Indonesia regrets the U.S. veto of a U.N. resolution that Jakarta sponsored calling for the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of people engaged in terrorism-related activities, officials said Wednesday. Washington said it rejected the U.N. Security Council resolution on Monday because the document did not call for the repatriation from Syria and Iraq of foreign fighters for the extremist group known as Islamic State (IS). Febrian Ruddyard, director general of multilateral cooperation at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the reason for the omission was that not all countries were capable of bringing back militants. “We really regret that this veto was only based on the [issue of] repatriation of ex-militants and ignored things that are bigger and important than that,” Febrian told BenarNews on Wednesday.

Indonesian Neutrality

In the face of a growing US-China rivalry, Indonesia wants to stay neutral according to Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. “ASEAN, Indonesia, wants to show to all that we are ready to be a partner,” said Retno. “We don’t want to get trapped by this rivalry.” China claims most of the South China Sea as sovereign territory. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei have rival claims to the resource-rich waters. The United States this year has escalated “freedom of navigation” operations in waters claimed by China, including bringing two aircraft carriers into the region for the first time since 2014 and lifting submarine deployments and surveillance flights. Retno told Reuters the escalating militarization of the South China Sea – and broader US-China animosity – was troubling. “One word: worrying,” she said. “That is the political reality that we have to face.” She said a joint statement last month by all 10 ASEAN foreign ministers showed that Southeast Asian states were united, dedicated to peace and not taking sides as China-US relations deteriorated. “[ASEAN has] a good culture, but we have to nurture it. We can’t take it for granted that these values will live forever.”

US Not Forcing a Choice: Stillwell

David Stilwell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said that Washington wanted ASEAN countries to make choices that protected their own sovereign interests, not force them into picking sides. “We often hear from our ASEAN friends and others this desire to ‘not make us choose’ and the US – I don’t think – has ever forced a choice,” Stilwell told reporters in a telephonic briefing from Washington on Tuesday. He then called out China’s track record of “bullying” behavior in the South China Sea and elsewhere, including in the Senkaku islands, a group of uninhabited islands claimed both by Japan and China. “The Chinese are forcing a choice,” he said, noting in an anecdote that a Chinese official had tried to get a Singaporean friend to choose sides. (Jakarta Post)

Secretary Pompeo at East Asia Foreign Minister’s Summit

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo joined counterparts from 17 countries for the 10th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting September 9th. Secretary Pompeo highlighted U.S. support for principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency, and respect for international law. These principles are shared across our Indo-Pacific vision, ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo Pacific, and the visions of many other EAS member states. The Secretary praised ASEAN unity and transparency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and outlined U.S. efforts to leverage all available resources to develop safe, effective, affordable, and widely available vaccines and therapeutics to fight against the virus. He also underscored the U.S. commitment—both government and private sector—to partnering with ASEAN countries in economic recovery efforts. (US Embassy, Jakarta)