Remarks With Indonesian Foreign Minister Noer Hassan Wirajuda After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
June 8, 2009

Date: 06/08/2009 Location: Washington, DC Description: Secretary Clinton holds press availability with Indonesian Foreign Minister Noer Hassan Wirajuda. © State Dept Image
Well, good afternoon. And it is a pleasure to welcome Indonesia’s foreign minister. Mr. Wirajuda and I have already met in Jakarta, we’ve talked on the phone on important matters, and it’s a very wonderful part of my position to be able to have him here to continue the productive conversation we started in February.

Today, we renewed our commitment to build a comprehensive partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interests. We are working together on a number of common concerns for our two countries, the region, and the world. Indonesia and the United States share a vision for a peaceful and prosperous Southeast Asia. We also share a commitment to democratic values, human rights, and a vibrant civil society. The American people have the greatest respect for what the Indonesian people have accomplished in the last decade.

Indonesia is now the world’s third largest democracy, and it is taking the lead on a broad range of regional and international issues, including the promotion of democracy. Through their commitment to democracy, religious freedom, and women’s rights, Indonesians uphold the values that President Obama described in his speech last week in Cairo, values that are fundamental – fundamental to Indonesia and the United States: justice, progress, tolerance.

Earlier today, I met with activists working to support democracy and human rights across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as with leaders who are advocating for religious freedom across the world. And for all who work hard and risk a great deal to stand up for these universal values, the example of Indonesia gives hope and confidence of a brighter future.

Today, I am pleased to announce that we are deepening our cooperation and committing $10 million in higher education funding for Indonesia this fiscal year, including projects for English language teaching and encouraging U.S.-Indonesia educational linkages. Also a group of American educators will travel to Indonesia this summer to explore additional opportunities for collaboration between our universities. Just as it is in the United States, education is the key to expanding economic opportunity in Indonesia and allowing people to live up to their full potential. And these people-to-people connections will further bind our countries together.

We also discussed the importance of ASEAN for regional stability and prosperity, our countries’ mutual interests in combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and I thank the foreign minister for Indonesia’s leadership in supporting democratic values, and underscored our commitment to the Bali Democracy Forum.

We also discussed the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi. Let me again reiterate that the charges against her are baseless, and we call for her immediate release. Indonesia, like other ASEAN countries, have also spoken out about her plight and urged her immediate release, and we greatly appreciate that.

I look forward to continuing to work with the foreign minister and the Indonesian Government on all of these issues. And I am confident that our relationship will grow stronger and deeper in the future.

Thank you so much, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER WIRAJUDA: Thank you very much, Secretary Hillary Clinton, for your kind remarks, including on the progress that we’ve made in Indonesia during the past ten years of reformasi we call it. The purpose of my working visit to Washington is to follow up our discussions during the visit of Secretary Clinton to Jakarta last February during which we agreed to develop comprehensive partnerships between Indonesia and the United States. By the comprehensive partnerships, we mean agreement to expand and deepens the bilateral relation between Indonesia and the United States.

Indonesia strongly believes, as we do share the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, and (inaudible), we have more reasons to be able to develop stronger relations with the United States. In fact, as we are continuing our discussions on the format as well as the substantive coverage of the partnerships, we agreed to start working on the promotions in areas that we thought we could start to develop a productive cooperations (inaudible) in the promotions of people-to-people exchange on educations, and I am grateful that the United States has extended assistance of $10 million U.S. to support the program.

I would – likewise – we are very encouraged that as immediate translations of President Obama’s message and call made in Cairo that the U.S. Government is intending to develop a bilateral dialogue, an interfaith dialogue and cooperation, something that we are in Indonesia proud of our various initiative in promoting both bilateral, regional, all regional dialogues with many countries and regions. And I think this is a noble effort to have – we have better understanding among peoples around the world.

We follow attentively and I personally read the statement made by President Obama. We welcome the statement. And I thought it might – I may claim that the message is also ours. And I thought that Indonesia could be a good partner in the U.S. efforts to reach out to the Muslim world, after all the call for democracy, respect for human rights, including the rights of women and to promote democracy and Islam to go hand in hand is something that we have been doing in Indonesia. This adds to more reasons why we should develop a – partnerships with the United States.

As Secretary of State has just mentioned, that we discussed other issues of concern, including the unfortunate development in Myanmar, in particular, the decisions of the military junta to bring Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to trial. Of course, this unfortunate development, because actually we were expecting that the case of the (inaudible) detentions of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, should have been reviewed last month with the view to release her. So that’s why we strong – we issued a very strong statement on the current case of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and we remind Myanmar of its obligation under the new ASEAN charter, and likewise through the previous calls by made by our leaders to immediately release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

We thank Secretary of State’s statements on the U.S. to support our Bali Democracy Forum. I think it’s important and very strategic that Indonesia and the United States works closely together in sharing our experience and best practices in the countries and, in particular, in the regions of Asia. I thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

MR. KELLY: First question is for Andrea Mitchell from NBC.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, can you come up with any explanation for the harsh sentence that Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been given by the North Koreans? And do you think that there is anything that a special envoy such as the Former Vice President Al Gore might be able to accomplish in negotiating their release? And more broadly, is U.S. policy at cross purposes? You’re trying to get these women out, at the same time that you’re ratcheting up pressure on Pyongyang for other military reasons? So how do you coordinate and synchronize those policies? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, we continue to seek the release of the two detained journalists on humanitarian grounds. Our protecting power in the DPRK is the Swedish Embassy and Pyongyang, and they confirmed the sentencing of both Laura Ling and Euna Lee. And our thoughts are with these two young women and their families. I have spoken with family members and expressed our concern, as well as our commitment to securing the release of our citizens. Obviously, we are deeply concerned about the length of the sentences and the fact that this trial was conducted totally in secret with no observers. And we’re engaged in all possible ways through every possible channel to secure their release. And we, once again, urge North Korea to grant their immediate release on humanitarian grounds.

QUESTION: Can you – can you say whether an envoy might be helpful and whether you’ve sent a letter that has been suggested, explaining the circumstances of their being on the border, and whether you have a concern that our efforts at the UN to get sanctions right now and put more pressure on North Korea for other reasons could slow down this negotiation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think for understandable reasons, I’m not going to go into our private diplomatic efforts. We are pursuing every possible approach that we can consider in order to persuade the North Koreans to release them and send these young women home. We view these as entirely separate matters. We think the imprisonment trial and sentencing of Laura, Euna, should be viewed as a humanitarian matter. We hope that the North Koreans will grant clemency and deport them. There are other concerns that we and the international community have with North Korea, but those are separate and apart from what’s happening to the two journalists.

MR. KELLY: Our next question from (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you. I was wondering whether you both discussed about military assistance to Indonesia, and whether it is included in the comprehensive partnership? And apart from that, is there any new scheme made by the U.S. to make sure that the military assistance to Indonesia is extended, especially in terms of arms supply? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: As part of our comprehensive partnership, we are going to be discussing military and defense matters. We want to have closer connections with Indonesia and a military-to-military relationship. And that will be discussed and resolved in the course of our partnership. But clearly, the Obama Administration sees the progress in Indonesia in very positive terms, and we want to cooperate across every issue – health, education, cultural exchanges, military, economic – so that will be a part of our overall framework.

MR. KELLY: Next question goes to Nick Kralev from Washington Times.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, can you tell us, how does the outcome of the election in Lebanon yesterday change the dynamic that you’ve got with Syria and in the broader Middle East? And if I may, how is the State Department going to be involved in the investigation of the former State Department employee accused of spying for Cuba? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Nick, first of all, I congratulate the people of Lebanon for holding a peaceful election yesterday. The turnout was high. Obviously, the very positive involvement by the Lebanese people in their elections demonstrates once again their commitment to peace and security and the strength of their democracy. So we will continue to support a sovereign and independent Lebanon, and we are hopeful that the Lebanese themselves will be able to resolve some of their internal concerns without outside interference.

With respect to the investigation that is ongoing, I have directed our security personnel to review every possible security program we have, every form of vetting and clearance that we employ in the State Department, to determine what more we can do to guard against this kind of outrageous violation of the oaths that people take to serve our country here in the State Department. We are concerned by the announcement of the arrests and the charges against these two individuals, one of whom, as you know, was a former State Department employee, along with his wife. And we will work with the Department of Justice and others within our government to make sure that any information that is needed is provided for the investigation and prosecution, but equally importantly, that we look forward to make sure that we try to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

MR. KELLY: And the last question from (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you, I have two questions. The first one is Indonesia will hold a presidential election next month, so what does U.S. hope (inaudible) in this election? And do you expect any changes to be brought or should be brought by the next president in terms of Indonesian foreign policy towards United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, the elections are an internal Indonesian matter. We applaud the continuing growth and dynamism of the democracy in Indonesia. We look forward to working with the Indonesian Government. We have very much appreciated our relationship with the existing administration. It has been very positive and constructive, and we look forward to working with the government that the people of Indonesia choose.

But what is so significant about this election is the further example it sets. As the minister was saying, Indonesia represents the fact that Islam and democracy are not in contradiction. Indonesia is building a modern secular democracy that respects Islam and respects women’s rights. We are so impressed with the steps that have been taken in Indonesia, and we applaud the Bali Democracy Forum because we think that is a way for other countries that are just beginning their transition to democracy or are thinking about whether to begin to see it in action. And this election next month is a great testament to the commitment of the Indonesian people to democracy.

Thank you all very much.

PRN: 2009/565