Wed, 09 Mar 2005

Jakarta to host ASEAN-European Union ministerial meeting

Veeramalla Anjaiah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

At least 11 ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU), including Malaysia's Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, will meet in Jakarta on Thursday to discuss ASEAN-EU relations, the reconstruction of tsunami-affected areas, terrorism, transnational crime and other matters related to regional cooperation.

Indonesia will host the 15th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) on Thursday and the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on Wednesday. Both meetings will be held at the Hotel Borobudur in Central Jakarta.

"All of the preparations have been made for the AEMM and the SOM. Security will be tight at the venue for the meetings," the director of information and media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lutfi Rauf, told The Jakarta Post.

Lutfi said the AEMM will be covered by around 140 local as well as foreign journalists.

Syed Hamid's presence in Jakarta will draw a lot of media attention given the current tensions between Indonesia and Malaysia over the oil-rich offshore area of Ambalat.

The Malaysian minister will hold a bilateral meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirayuda on Wednesday to discuss the dispute.

Marty Natalegawa, the director general of ASEAN-Indonesia at the Indonesian foreign ministry, said the format of the AEMM would involve troikas from both sides.

"The ASEAN troika will be represented by Laos (as the head of the ASEAN Standing Committee), Indonesia (as the country coordinator of the ASEAN-EU partnership) and Cambodia (as the next country coordinator of the ASEAN-EU partnership). The EU troika will consist of Luxembourg (as EU president), the European Commission (EC) and the EU General Council," Marty told the Post on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the European Union Delegation of the European Commission to Indonesia said the EC would be represented by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European commissioner for external relations and the European neighborhood policy.

Ferrero-Waldner -- who will arrive in Jakarta on Wednesday -- will attend the AEMM, the Indonesia-EU Troika Ministerial Meeting and visit tsunami-affected areas, including Banda Aceh.

In addition to Ferrero-Waldner, the EU troika will be represented by Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn (EU president) and the UK's Minister of State for Investment and Foreign Affairs Douglas Alexander (next EU president).

"Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will also hold bilateral talks with Vice President Jusuf Kalla, State Minister for Development Planning Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Minister of Justice and Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin," the EU delegation of the European Commission's office in Jakarta said in a statement sent to the Post.

The EC has pledged US$455 million (350 million euros) for the reconstruction of tsunami-affected areas in Indian Ocean countries.

Of the 350 million euros, the EC plans to give 200 million euros ($260 million) to Indonesia, where over 120,000 people died in the tsunami.

Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, Italy's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Margherita Boniver and Slovakia's State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jozsef Berenyi will arrive in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Marty said the foreign ministers of Sweden, Cambodia, Laos and Singapore also would participate in the AEMM.