Jakarta will look into the possibility of signing a cooperation agreement with the US before a state visit by President Barack Obama to Indonesia in June following the postponement of his Asia trip, the foreign minister said Friday.
“There are three documents that were to be signed during Obama’s visit. They cover transfer of technology, investment and an action plan on the joint declaration [of a comprehensive Indonesia-US partnership],” Marty Natalegawa said.
“All the preparation has been done and the documents are ready to be signed but with the postponement we may look into the option of signing it as planned [in March] or to waiting for Obama’s visit.”
Obama postponed his trip to Guam, Indonesia and Australia until June to push through his healthcare reform bill. He was expected to launch a comprehensive partnership with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta on March 23.
“The three documents were to be signed at a ministerial level and so this process doesn’t have to be stalled by,” Marty said, adding that Obama and Yudhoyono would only officially launch the comprehensive partnership but not sign it, as a minister would do so.
Officials have said Jakarta and Washington would cooperate on the transfer of technology and facilitation of US investment in Indonesia covered by the Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC).
Marty said the postponement of Obama’s visit created opportunities for both countries to speed up pending agreements, including the revocation of a US training ban on the Indonesian Military’s (TNI) Army Special Forces (Kopassus).
“We have more opportunities to tie up loose ends. One issue is the normalization of military relations.”
However, Marty said, Jakarta would not push for the revocation. “The TNI has undergone reforms and if the US is comfortable with how that process has gone, then that’s wonderful but we are not going to beg for an endorsement.”
Jakarta and Washington are also negotiating a new biomedical research deal, following the closure of the controversial Namru joint naval research centre.
Centre for Strategic and International Studies executive director Rizal Sukma said the delay of the Obama visit might make it harder to plan future programs because officials might see it as a sign of weakness from the US leader. “He has disappointed many people, including officials, with the postponement and it might lower the public enthusiasm to welcome him in June.”