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India, Indonesia decide to boost maritime cooperation

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Defence Minister Niramala Sitharaman holding talks with Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu (Rtd), Defence Minister of Indonesia in a bilateral meeting in Jakarta on Oct 23. Photo: Defence Ministry/Twitter

NEW DELHI (PTI): Months after India and Indonesia elevated their ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Indonesian counterpart Gen (Retd) Ryamizard Rycudu on Tuesday held wide-ranging talks, exploring ways to deepen defence and security relations, with a focus on cooperation in maritime domain.

Sitharaman and Rycudu, in their talks in Jakarta, also agreed to set up working groups to boost bilateral defence engagements in specific areas, officials in New Delhi said without elaborating.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Indonesia in May during which both sides signed a pact on defence cooperation and elevated the ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Sitharaman arrived in Jakarta on Monday on a two-day visit.

In the talks, the Indian side welcomed Indonesia's support for New Delhi's proposal to be part of the maritime patrol in the Malacca Straits. A number of ASEAN countries are part of the patrol, officials said.

India is keen to be part of the patrol in the strategically-key Malacca Straits.

Sharing details of the talks, the defence ministry in Delhi said Sitharaman noted that commencement of bilateral naval and air exercises between the two countries will lay a strong foundation for defence cooperation between the two countries.

"In line with the elevation of relationship between the two countries to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the two sides discussed areas of enhancing cooperation, including strengthening maritime and coastal security, through improved information sharing," it said.

Sitharaman also met Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Gen (Retd) Luhut Panjaitan and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Gen (Retd) Wiranto.

"During these meetings, issues of strategic interest and potential areas of bilateral defence cooperation were discussed and agreed to," the ministry said.

Sitharaman also laid a wreath at the memorial in Jakarta for the Indian soldiers who made supreme sacrifices in Indonesia during World War II.

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