US Defense Secretary James N. Mattis welcomed Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to the Pentagon on Monday for a meeting to discuss areas of mutual interest to their nations.
“I believe our two nations have an opportunity — perhaps even a once-in-a-generation opportunity — for cooperation on shared economic, diplomatic and security concerns,” Mattis said at a ceremony welcoming Indonesia’s top diplomat. “I think it’s important for our nations to work together and to share responsibility for regional security in a critical crossroads of global trade.”
Indonesia is a geographic and diplomatic fulcrum for the Indo-Pacific region, Mattis said, noting its ability to build consensus within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which he called an important factor in the effort to expand counterterrorism, bolster maritime cooperation and promote collective security.
“We also appreciate Indonesia’s support for reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan,” Mattis said. “We welcome your initiative to host a trilateral meeting of Afghan, Pakistani and Indonesian religious leaders. In light of your nation’s multiethnic society, your voice in denouncing theological violence and your endorsement of the peace process shows the path to a lasting peace in Afghanistan, a country which has suffered far too long from war.”
The secretary thanked the foreign minister for Indonesia’s leadership in training and interoperability with its neighbors. “We believe it is a stabilizing factor, what you are doing,” he said. “Your trilateral cooperation agreement with Malaysia and the Philippines serves as a good model from the North Natuna Sea, to the Sulu Sea and beyond.”
Calling Indonesia “a like-minded partner with shared democratic values and interests,” Mattis said the United States greatly values the military relationship between the two nations, noting that Indonesians are supported in their interest and respect for international law, for territorial integrity in the South China Sea, and for their sovereignty.