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Friday, June 14, 2024

Korean, Indonesian presidents agree to bolster strategic partnership

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Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, right, shake hands at their bilateral summit at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, on the margins of Asean-related meetings. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, right, shake hands at their bilateral summit at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, on the margins of Asean-related meetings. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Indonesian President Joko Widodo agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership in areas including economic and defense cooperation in a bilateral summit in Jakarta on Friday.

“Korea and Indonesia, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year, have made remarkable progress in their relationship in many areas including politics, economy, society, and culture,” Yoon said at the beginning of the meeting at the presidential palace.

“We look forward to continuing to expand cooperation between our two countries in future industries such as electric vehicles (EVs), batteries and smart cities.”

Yoon’s four-day trip to Indonesia to attend a series of Asean-related summits this week doubles as a bilateral visit as the two countries celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations this year.

The two sides agreed to expand strategic cooperation in diplomacy and security, the defense industry, economy and people-to-people exchanges, said the presidential office in a statement.

They called to solidify cooperation in security and the defense industry to deepen the “special strategic partnership” between the two countries.

Korea and Indonesia will “work closely together to successfully complete the next-generation fighter joint development project,” the office added.

The KF-21, also known as the Boramae, is a 4.5th-generation fighter developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) with funding from Korea and Indonesia. The 8.1 trillion-won ($6 billion) project to build Korea’s first domestically developed advanced fighter jet by 2026 began in 2015, with Indonesia participating as a partner under a deal to shoulder 20 percent of the amount.

Indonesia has imported a total of $4.3 billion in Korean arms, making it Korea’s largest defense export destination among Asean countries. Indonesia was also the first country to import Korea’s KT-1 and T-50 training aircraft and the only country so far to have imported a Korean submarine.

“Cooperation in the defense industry symbolizes the highest level of strategic trust between countries,” said the presidential office. “We have decided to further deepen the Korea-Indonesia defense industry partnership, which has set many firsts and records in the defense industry.”

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center left, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center right, accompanied by first ladies Kim Keon Hee and Iriana, take part in a welcome ceremony at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, ahead of their bilateral summit. [AP/YONHAP]
Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center left, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center right, accompanied by first ladies Kim Keon Hee and Iriana, take part in a welcome ceremony at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, ahead of their bilateral summit. [YONHAP]

Widodo, popularily known as Jokowi, and Indonesian first lady Iriana received Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee in a welcoming ceremony with an honor guard in the gardens of the Merdeka Palace on Friday morning.

At the beginning of the talks, Yoon recognized Indonesia as a “leading Asean country with tremendous economic growth capacity” that clearly stands by guaranteeing the rule of law based on liberal democracy and a market economy order.

“In that respect, it is inevitable but for Indonesia to become Korea’s key partner in the Asean and Indo-Pacific regions,” Yoon said.

“We hope to work with Indonesia, our key partner, to explore ways to contribute to freedom, peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Widodo in turn welcomed Yoon’s Korea-Asean Solidarity Initiative, or KASI, calling to strengthen the mutually beneficial, practical and strategic partnership between the two sides, the presidential office said.

The two sides agreed on the shared vision of KASI and the Asean Perspective on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), Southeast Asia’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

Yoon also raised concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations and the need for a firm and united response from the international community, a message he has underscored during the Asean multilateral forums in the past several days.

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They agreed to expand trade and investment based on their bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA, which took effect in January.

The two sides plan to cooperate in building an ecosystem for the EV and battery industry in Indonesia, which is emerging as an EV hub in the Southeast Asia region.

Yoon also said the Korean government will invite scholarship students to support exchanges between the two countries’ future generations and announced plans to establish a Korean language education center in Indonesia by 2024.

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, and first lady Kim Keon Hee, center right, chat with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center left, and first lady Iriana, left, during their bilateral summit at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, and first lady Kim Keon Hee, center right, chat with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center left, and first lady Iriana, left, during their bilateral summit at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

The two leaders later took part in a signing ceremony for memoranda of understanding (MOU), agreeing to strengthen cooperation in the industrial sector, agricultural mechanization and infrastructure, creating an electric vehicle ecosystem and halal food exports.

About 2,000 Korean companies, including Posco, Hyundai Motor, Lotte Chemical, and Hankook Tire have entered the Indonesian market. Yoon asked the Indonesian government to support difficulties faced by Korean businesses, including export volume restrictions and difficult certification procedures.

This marks the two leaders’ fourth meeting since Yoon took office in May 2022.

Yoon returns the Indonesian president’s two-day trip to Seoul in July 2022. The two leaders had another bilateral summit on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima in May.

Yoon arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday and attended a series of Asean-related meetings including the East Asia Summit. He also took part in bilateral summits with leaders of countries including Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Canada.

Later Friday, Yoon headed to New Delhi, India, for the second leg of his trip to take part in the G20 summit to be attended by leaders of the world’s top 20 economies.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]