Remarks at the Third Annual U.S.-Indonesian Joint Commission Meeting
Secretary of State
So we are gathered here today for our third joint commission meeting. You were such gracious hosts when I have been in Indonesia, in Jakarta a few weeks ago, in Bali for our last meeting, and we are so pleased to be able to host you here today.
As the Minister and I were just discussing, the United States and Indonesia have strengthened our ties through the Comprehensive Partnership agreement signed by our two presidents. And since then, this commission has been the vehicle for advancing that partnership through collaboration on regional stability, global security, trade, commerce, education, health, such a long list of areas that we have been working on together. I think we have a lot to show for our efforts, and we will soon hear from the chairs of the six working groups on their accomplishments over the last year.
But first let me just stress the importance of our relationship with Indonesia, and highlight a few particular successes that have resulted from recent collaboration. As the second and third largest democracies in the world, we are natural partners, and the United States looks to Indonesia as a cornerstone for stability in the Asia Pacific region. A major part of the engagement that we have been pursuing is the promotion of economic growth through trade and development, which is so important not only for both our nations and our people, but the region.
Our economic ties with Indonesia are a strong foundation for that economic growth. Since the year 2000, our bilateral trade has more than doubled, topping $27 billion last year. The $21 billion agreement between Lion Air and Boeing is the largest in Boeing’s history. America’s natural gas sector has drawn investments from Indonesian energy companies here in this country. A new Memorandum of Understanding between the Indonesian Government and Celanese, an American company, may lead to a new billion-dollar facility that will convert coal to ethanol.
And just yesterday, we signed the implementation plan for the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, and over five years, we will invest $600 million in clean energy development, healthcare, and nutrition programs for children, and a project to support more open and efficient governance. I’m looking forward to hearing from our working groups on the plan’s progress and other new initiatives.
Another major focus of our partnership has been promoting education, which is a key to both economic growth and personal advancement. Since 2010, we’ve expanded the Fulbright Program and supported partnerships between dozens of American and Indonesian universities. More than 1,000 students and scholars have taken part in academic exchanges, and the United States is supporting primary education and English language programs in Indonesia.
Since we started working together on education issues, the number of applications by Indonesian students for American visas has increased by one-third. These direct, person-to-person ties are critical to deepening the friendship between the American and Indonesian people. That is something President Obama is personally very committed to, based on his own relationships. And we should look for more ways to promote these exchanges.
We also greatly appreciate Indonesia’s leadership as ASEAN chair in supporting America’s engagement with ASEAN. When Indonesia hosted the East Asia Summit last year, President Obama became the first American president to attend.
I also want to thank the Foreign Minister for laying the groundwork for diplomacy through ASEAN with regard to the South China Sea. We support ASEAN’s six-point principles to help reduce tensions and pave the way to a comprehensive code of conduct for addressing disputes. And we support a solution through which all concerned parties can resolve any disputes without threats, coercion, or the use of force.
Indonesia and the United States have collaborated to help open markets across the region to greater trade and investment, working to discourage protectionist policies that serve as roadblocks to greater economic integration, and as Indonesia prepares to host APEC in 2013, we hope that under Indonesia’s leadership, we will continue to see greater openness and economic opportunities for more people in more places.
Finally, I want to acknowledge Indonesia’s role in helping to meet regional and global challenges. As you know, Aung San Suu Kyi has been in Washington the last two days. I personally am grateful for Indonesia’s leadership in bringing about the openness and the reforms that are currently taking place in her country. I want to publicly acknowledge the role that President Yudhoyono has played in reaching out to the leadership as well as the Foreign Minister and his colleagues in helping to move that important development forward.
We’ve stood together on issues from nonproliferation to climate change to working to end the violence in Syria, and the United States will again be sending a high-level delegation to the Bali Democracy Forum to build on our efforts to promote democracy and human rights. I am so appreciative of the progress that we have made in so many ways in our partnership, and it’s been a great privilege serving with the Foreign Minister.
So now let me ask him to provide some remarks.
FOREIGN MINISTER NATALEGAWA: Thank you very much, Excellency and a dear colleague, Secretary of State Madam Hillary Clinton, co-chair of this third Joint Commission meeting. And of course, I’d like to acknowledge and to express how pleased I am to be back here in Washington with my colleagues – of course, the members of the Indonesian delegation – and especially to thank your able and very dedicated delegation, Secretary Clinton, for the important work they have been achieving.
Let me, therefore, begin once again in a manner that is, I think, appropriate by thanking all concerned for the very gracious hospitality, for the warm welcome all of us have received here ever since our arrival in Washington.
Most of all – most of all – I wish to thank Secretary Clinton just now for her comprehensive opening remarks – not only thanking her, but especially and most of all in echoing precisely, basically all the sentiments the Secretary have expressed in describing the state of the United States-Indonesia relations. You have described our state relations, Secretary, in a matter that I wish to describe as well, a relations that is very solid and very sound and strong, robust, and whose implications and whose importance now extends beyond bilateral relations to the region at large.
However, before I go any further, I wish to seize this opportunity, Madam Secretary, to once again extend our most deepest of condolences to the government and people of the United States on the tragic incident that took place in Libya recently that took the lives of Ambassador John Christopher Stevens and three members of the United States Embassy staff. The inviolability, the security, and the safety of diplomatic missions and staff the world over, whatever countries, are ever more critical in this day and age where we have to deal with very complex issues. And all of us without exception – all of us without exception – are in great mourning and express our sympathy and condolences to the government and people of the United States, as well, of course, to the families of the persons concerned.
Most of all, Secretary, as we had just now discussed during our tete-a-tete, the tragic incidents calls upon all of us – calls upon all of us – to reaffirm, to renew, and to strengthen our commitment to the building of a culture of peace, a culture of understanding across peoples of different faiths and cultures as well, and to sustain a true dialogue across faiths that effectively reaches people at the grassroot level. Of course, in condemning the movie trailers concerned, which constitute religious defamations and the – we are reminded that the exercise of freedom of expression is framed within the context of moral values and public interest, as also enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Madam Secretary, you will recall just a little bit over two weeks ago I had the pleasure of welcoming you in Jakarta. That occasion afforded us the opportunity, much like previous meeting and conversations that we’ve had, to reinforce the bilateral comprehensive partnership between our two countries and not least to enhance our contribution to the region’s peace, stability, and prosperity.
Indeed, the fact that we’ve had a series of close consultations over such a short span of time, I believe reflects the strength of U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership, a partnership that is mutually beneficial and at the same time extends well beyond the bilateral level, anchored in and driven by a strong belief in the common interest of countries in the region for peace, for stability, and prosperity in the Asia Pacific.
Madam Secretary, our meeting today, this joint commission, is very important, in fact a fundamental component of that partnership. Through this JC meeting we will take stock of the progress of our partnerships thus far, and not least, identify ways and means of making further progress. In this regard, I am pleased that the six working groups continue to make progress in their respective areas, and indeed, and important aspect of our bilateral mechanism is the fact that each of the working groups strives to yield concrete deliverables. And I am certain that this will ensure the enhancement of our partnership over the years to come.
As I have said on several occasion, Madam Secretary, the term comprehensive partnership denotes a cooperation which covers a wide range of issues and a relationship that is mutually beneficial, a partnership that will enable both nations to prosper and to progress. And we are, therefore, challenged to ensure that this JC meeting actually delivers concrete results. Indeed, we have much – achieved much progress since our last meeting in Bali in November, 2011. But I’m sure all of you would recognize there’s actually plenty more room for further progress.
I look forward, Madam Secretary, to work closely with you this morning to precisely ensure that we achieve our common goals as elucidated in the comprehensive partnership between our two countries. Thank you once again for welcoming us to Washington.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Marty, and let me thank you for your expressions of condolence and solidarity. And I want to thank your government and the people of Indonesia for their support during this time. As you rightly say, there cannot be any justification, despite the strong feelings people have in response to material that is, as I have said, offensive and very disgusting in so many ways – but there can be no justification for the use of violence. And your law enforcement, your government, have been very responsive, and we’re very grateful to you.
Now we want to begin to hear from our working groups. And I will begin by inviting Under Secretary Otero and Ambassador Fachir to provide a report from the democracy and civil society working group.
# # #