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India, Indonesia ties elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

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JAKARTA (PTI): India and Indonesia on Wednesday elevated their bilateral ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and called for freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region as they signed 15 agreements including one on defence cooperation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held "productive discussions" with President Joko Widodo.

Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in Jakarta last night on his first-ever official visit to Indonesia, was accorded a red carpet welcome on his arrival at the Merdeka palace, one of the presidential palaces in Indonesia, in the morning.

The meeting commenced with a tete-a-tete between the two leaders, followed by the delegation-level talks. They discussed areas of strategic cooperation, ways towards ensuring better economic ties, closer cultural relations as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.

"Held productive discussions with President Joko Widodo. Glad that ties between India and Indonesia are gaining strong momentum. We discussed areas of strategic cooperation, ways towards ensuring better economic ties and closer cultural relations between our nations," Modi tweeted.

In a joint press statement after the meeting, Modi said India and Indonesia have agreed to elevate their ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

He said that India's Act East Policy and the vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) matches Widodo's Maritime Fulcrum Vision.

"As mutual partners and neighbours, our worries are similar. It is our duty to ensure maritime security and safety. This is also for the safety of our economic interests," he said.

"In the Indo-Pacific region, we, as partners, have mutual interests in each other's progress and well-being and that's why we have agreed upon mutual vision and principles for the Indo-Pacific region," he said.

Modi also strongly condemned the recent terror strikes on three churches in Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya, and said India stands resolutely with Jakarta in the fight against terrorism.

A joint statement issued later said the two leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism and terror-related incidents in Indonesia and India and affirmed that perpetrators of these heinous acts must be brought to justice.

They called upon all countries to work towards disrupting terrorist networks and their financing channels, and halting cross-border movement of terrorists from terror organisations as well as other terrorist groups threatening peace and security in respective region, the statement said.

They also shared the view on the imperative need to eradicate radicalism and reiterated the importance of promoting peaceful pluralism.

The two countries signed 15 agreements including on the cooperation in the field of defence, space, science and technology, railways and health.

Modi said that India and Indonesia will double their efforts to take bilateral trade to USD 50 billion by 2025.

Recalling the visit of ASEAN leaders in January to attend the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, Modi said India-ASEAN partnership can become a guarantee of peace not only in Indo-Pacific region but also beyond it.

Both leaders reiterated the importance of achieving a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty, international law, freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development and an open and fair trade and investment system are respected, the statement said.

It said the two leaders welcomed the adoption of the 'Shared Vision on Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific between India and Indonesia' with a strong belief that the two sides could develop further cooperation in maritime which can be a force of immense stability in the region.

"The two leaders welcomed the growing convergence in the political, strategic, defence, security and economic fields between the two countries," it said.

They reaffirmed their commitment in the field of defence, with the signing of Defence Cooperation Agreement between two sides. The pact will further strengthen and renew the existing cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two countries and the region, the statement said.

They agreed to further enhance mutual trust through regular meetings and staff talks between their armies, navies and air forces. They also directed officials to expand mutually beneficial collaboration between their defence industries for joint production of equipment, technology transfer, technical assistance and capacity building as well as sourcing of defence equipment.

They reiterated the shared commitment to enhance liaison between the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of both countries.

Both sides agreed to work intensively for the early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and reiterated that it needs to be comprehensive, fair and balanced with benefit to all member states.

They welcomed potential cooperation in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy and looked forward to the early renewal of an agreement on cooperation regarding the utilisation of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Both sides agreed to intensify cooperation in the fields of culture, education, tourism, films and people-to-people exchanges.

Modi extended advance Eid greetings to the Indonesian people, saying "on behalf of India's 1.25 billion people, I wish you prosperity, good health and great success."

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

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