Fri, 14 Oct 1994

Rafsanjani in town to boost bilateral ties

JAKARTA (JP): Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani arrived yesterday to begin a three-day visit aimed at improving political and economic ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the country with the world's largest Moslem population.

"As a country comprised of a Moslem majority, Indonesia will be happy if cooperation between our two countries can strengthen the moral fiber of our human resources so they can contribute to our respective developments," President Soeharto said at a banquet in honor of Rafsanjani last night.

Touching on the existing state of relations, Soeharto noted with delight at the common perceptions shared by both countries on many international issues.

Rafsanjani's private plane touched down at Halim Perdanakusuma airport yesterday morning with a delegation of 127 people.

This is the second time Rafsanjani has visited Jakarta, the first being in 1992 for the Non-Aligned Movement Summit. President Soeharto visited Teheran in November.

Included in Rafsanjani's entourage is his wife Fatima Rafsanjani, his daughter, four cabinet ministers, and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezai.

After being greeted at the airport by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas, Rafsanjani was whisked to Merdeka Palace where he was welcomed with military honors by Soeharto and Vice President Try Sutrisno.

In respect of Iranian customs, Mrs. Tien Soeharto, donning a blue head scarf, greeted Mrs. Rafsanjani separately at the State guest house.

The Iranian first lady left the airport in a separate motorcade from her husband's.

Minister/State Secretary Moerdiono told reporters that he expects today's meeting between the two presidents to center on economics affairs, but declined to say if Iran would purchase additional planes from Indonesia.

Last year Iran bought four Super Puma helicopters built by the Bandung-based IPTN, the state aircraft manufacturer. Indonesia hopes to entice Iran into purchasing more aircraft when Rafsanjani visits the plant later today.

While Rafsanjani and Soeharto engage in a 75-minute tete-a- tete, the four Iranian ministers -- Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, Defense Minister Forouzandeh, Economic and Finance Minister Mohammad Khan and Minister of Post, Telegraph and Telephone Gharazi are expected to meet their counterparts.

The issue of economics was also among the topics raised by Soeharto at his dinner speech at Merdeka Palace last night.

Soeharto said that the post Cold War situation had not brought on the desired changes for developing countries.

"The important changes occurring have mostly benefited the developed countries," he added, calling on developing countries to band together in solidarity in order to solve the common problems facing them.

Prior to departing for Brunei on Saturday, Rafsanjani will hold a meeting with several Indonesian Ulemas at the State Guest House.

The Iranian president is also scheduled to visit Malaysia before returning to Tehran. A prior stop in India had been canceled apparently due to the outbreak of pneumonic plague there. (mds)

U.S.-Iran -- Page 5