Welcome everyone to the Benjamin Franklin room of the State Department’s diplomatic floor. I am delighted to have this chance to kick off this exciting and important U.S.-Indonesian Joint Commission. And I am excited, too, that we have this opportunity between us for discussions on a number of important matters.
I have to confess, I raced upstairs and I don’t have my opening papers which I was casually looking for; I hope no one noticed. (Laughter.)
So let me begin with some comments expressing both President Obama’s and my deep appreciation that we have this opportunity.
The foreign minister is someone with whom I have worked closely over the last 18 months, and it is wonderful to see him again. We will be together in the affairs up at UNGA. And I wanted to also welcome Ambassador Djalal and all of the distinguished members of the Indonesian delegation. We’re happy to have you in Washington, Ambassador.
Many of you may know that the Ambassador went to high school in the Washington area, so welcome back. And it’s great that we have someone who is so familiar with our country and even this region.
And I’m pleased that our new ambassador to Indonesia, Scot, who has long history and involvement, both in the region and a great love for Indonesia, has finally gotten through our lengthy nomination confirmation process and taken up the important post to Indonesia. He’ll soon be presenting his credentials in Jakarta.
Last year, our two presidents agreed to elevate and broaden the relationship between our two countries, and to forge a comprehensive partnership that is really built on our shared values and interests. I think it is remarkable that the United States and Indonesia are the second and third largest democracies in the history of the world. That’s quite a tribute. We may be older, but I think the recent history of Indonesia and the extraordinary commitment that you have made to a future built on democracy is inspiring to us as well.
We are both diverse societies with traditions of pluralism, tolerance, respect for the rights of women and minorities. We share an abiding interest in a more prosperous Southeast Asia and a more peaceful world. And we applaud the role that Indonesia is playing, not only as an advocate for democracy around the world, but on the environment, on climate change, on so many other critical issues.
So today, we inaugurate the Joint U.S.-Indonesian Commission. And later this afternoon, we will release a Plan of Action that will guide our cooperation on a wide range of issues.
Our six working groups began meeting yesterday. Three are new, and they will shepherd new initiatives in education, climate and the environment, and democracy.
I especially am pleased to highlight the work we do together to promote democracy because Indonesia’s free and fair elections, press freedoms, and vibrant civil society are setting an example for so many other nations. Thirty-six countries, including the United States, attended the second Bali Democracy Forum this year. And I applaud your government, Minister, for the leadership that has been shown.
We’ve also worked together through the G-20 to stabilize the global economy and promote sustainable future growth that widens the circle of prosperity to more people in more places. It is important that we continue to raise the standard of living in our own countries, and to be sure that no one is left out in this globalized economy.
We work together to encourage progress and reform in Burma, to combat violent extremism, and so much more.
In the last year, we’ve re-launched the Peace Corps program in Indonesia. We have signed agreements for increased private investment, and cooperation in science and technology. We sent a joint expedition of two ships to explore the depths of the ocean off of Sulawesi, and our joint discoveries astounded the world.
So we’re not only deepening and broadening our relationship, but what we’re doing together has implications for everyone else. We’re now collaborating – as you can tell from the number of people in this room – on so many areas. And we’re reaching beyond governments to connect our NGOs, businesses, civil society groups, and multinational organizations.
Take, for example, the “Breathe Easy, Jakarta” initiative, which is a joint effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the City of Jakarta and a local Indonesian NGO to improve air quality in Jakarta. We learn a lot from this because tackling problems like this together increases each of our expertise and experience which we can put to work in our own countries.
We will work together to increase the number of Indonesian students studying in the United States and the number of American students studying in Indonesia. We are taking steps that will eventually double our bilateral trade, including a $1 billion dollar credit commitment from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, in partnership with 11 Indonesian banks.
So even though this is our inaugural meeting, we’ve already done a lot of work in the last 18 months. And we’re going to be seeing each other often over the year to come. We very much look forward to Indonesia chairing ASEAN next year. We look forward to Indonesia chairing the East Asian Summit, which the United States is joining, and that President Obama will be there for the meeting in Jakarta.
So I want to thank our American and Indonesia colleagues, because Marty and I get to sit up here and make the statements, but you do the work, and we’re well aware of that. So we want you to know how much we appreciate what you’re doing on behalf of our own countries and on behalf of our bilateral efforts. So thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER NATALEGAWA:
Excellency, Secretary Clinton, on behalf of all of us members of the Indonesian delegation, I’d like, first of all, express our most heartfelt appreciation for the warmth of welcome and the hospitality shown to all of us since our arrival here in Washington. And thank you, Secretary Clinton, for giving us just now what I thought was brief and yet comprehensive description of where we are now in Indonesia-United States relationship.
I think that “comprehensive partnership” describes well the state of our relationship just now. We have much in common and indeed through the work that we are embarking today, no doubt the depth and the width of our relationship will be even more enhanced.
Secretary, I’d like to emphasize one quality that you have been very kind to acknowledge just now in terms of our similarity; namely, our two nations as democracies. I recall, Secretary Clinton, a few months back we were both in Krakow in Poland. The time was for meeting of Community of Democracies. You were kind enough just now to acknowledge that we have – Indonesia has taken initiative with what we call the Bali Democracy Forum to promote democracy in the Asia Pacific region.
But this year, for the first time, we also participated in the Community of Democracies Forum in Poland at the minister level, and at that occasion I recall vividly how our two countries’ position on many issues relating to democratizations and human rights actually coincide. And I do sincerely believe if there is one area where our bilateral collaboration will have an impact beyond bilateral issues, it’s certainly on the area of promotion of democracy and human rights. And I will be extremely happy to ensure that this aspect of bilateral relations continue to be at the forefront of our efforts.
At the same time, of course, Secretary Clinton, as is reflected in the diversity of the working groups that have been established under the JCM. It’s clear that we have a broad range of issues and subject matters that we need to be working on, not least in the education area that you have just now recognized as well, Secretary Clinton. I am reminded by my newly appointed ambassador, Ambassador Djalal, of the fact that we can do far better in terms of ensuring and developing our collaboration in precisely in this area. And I am very keen to ensure that on education as well in other areas as well – trade and investment, energy, climate change and environment – we make steady progress and even urgent progress to ensure that we really deliver in making – in giving substance to our comprehensive partnership.
You are quite correct, Secretary, in saying that while we are inaugurating our JCM today, as a matter of fact, a lot of work has already gone into our collaboration and we will be in a happy situation today, hopefully, in hearing and being shared reports and information from the different working groups of where they are in our collaboration.
One final thought I wanted to emphasize, Secretary Clinton, is that, as I said before and as you have said as well, our collaboration extends beyond bilateral issues. Indonesia values highly the United States’s renewed and enhanced engagement in our region. Your signing of the TAC recently, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, and the express intention of United States to join the East Asia Summit and all the other forms of United States engagement in our region is one that we welcome because we do honestly feel that such an engagement can be for the mutual benefits of all countries in the region as well.
Beyond that, in the United Nations, as we are now about to embark on the United Nations General Assembly session next week, I look forward very much to continue collaboration with United States on many issues of common interest on multilateral issues. We work very closely as well within the G-20 forum and many other multilateral forums.
All in all, therefore, Secretary, I think we have reason to be optimistic about where we are in our bilateral relations; but at the same time, we must set the higher standard that we really widen and deepen our comprehensive partnership, and no doubt today’s activities will contribute greatly in making precisely that kind of outcome. Thank you very much for welcoming us once again, Secretary. (Applause.)
Thank you so much, Marty. And I look forward, as I know you do, to hearing the accomplishments of the existing working groups. I’m very anxious to hear about the goals and the priority areas and the action plans intended to accomplish the objectives of each of the groups.
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