India and Indonesia elevated their ‘strategic partnership’ to ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first official visit to Jakarta and pledged to step up defence and maritime cooperation to help stabilise the Indo-Pacific region amid China’s expansionist moves.
In their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesian President Joko Widodo met PM Modi discussed infrastructure development and an economic zone at Sabang, on the tip of Sumatra island and at the mouth of the Malacca Strait, one of the busiest shipping channels for global trade.
The existing port at Sabang is 40 metres (131 ft) deep and could be developed to accommodate both commercial vessels and navy assets.
“India is a strategic defence partner… and we will continue to advance our cooperation in developing infrastructure, including at Sabang Island and the Andaman Islands,” Widodo told media after the meeting at the presidential palace.
The move comes amid concerns over China’s rising maritime influence in the region, and is part of Modi’s Act East policy. “The India-ASEAN partnership can be a force to guarantee peace and progress in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” Modi said.
Modi, who arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday night, exchanged views with Widodo on cooperation in areas like defence, maritime security, trade and economy as the two countries signed nine government-to-government pacts across sectors such as defence , space and railways.
The Defence pact entails regular bilateral dialogue and consultation on strategic defence and military issues of common interest, exchange of strategic information, military education, training and exercise, cooperation among the armed forces, including Army, Navy, Air Force and Aerospace, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, peace-keeping and medical services.
India and Indonesia also agreed to enhance efforts to boost bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2025, informed Modi as the two sides signed six business-related pacts.
In a joint statement, the two countries said they have agreed to work intensively for the early conclusion of the regional comprehensive economic partnership.
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