Panetta: U.S.-Indonesia Security Partnership Expanding
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
BALI, Indonesia, Oct. 23, 2011 Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said meetings here today featured “very good discussions” with his Indonesian counterpart.
During the first full day of a weeklong trip that also will take him to Japan and South Korea, Panetta spoke with reporters after a meeting with Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro this afternoon, which was early this morning in the United States.
The two discussed “how to further deepen the very close security partnership” between the United States and Indonesia, the secretary said.
“I expressed our deep admiration for Indonesia’s growing leadership in regional and global issues,” Panetta said.
The United States and Indonesia are each diverse, dynamic nations whose relationship is strengthened by shared beliefs in tolerance, pluralism and religious freedom, he added.
“Our defense relationship continues to develop in the context of the comprehensive partnership that we’ve established,” Panetta said. “This year alone, the United States is conducting more than 150 activities, exchanges and visits with the Indonesian military.”
Panetta said he and Purnomo discussed three key areas: humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security and free sea access, and peacekeeping operations.
The United States also is firmly committed to helping Indonesia continue to reform and increase professionalism in its military forces, the secretary added.
“We also affirmed our shared belief that greater multilateral cooperation and strong regional institutions are absolutely essential, given the complexity of the Asia-Pacific security environment,” Panetta said.
The secretary said he was grateful for Purnomo’s invitation to address the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministerial meeting here today.
Despite increased budget pressures at home, Panetta said, he would assure the ASEAN defense ministers the United States will not decrease its presence in and focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
“The purpose of my visit is to make very clear to this region … that the Pacific will remain a key priority for the United States,” the secretary said. “We will maintain our force projection in this area … [and] we will remain a Pacific power.”
The United States will do all it can in partnership with regional nations to develop a strong, cooperative security relationship, he added.
Panetta is scheduled to meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tomorrow before traveling on to Japan. Later in the week, the secretary will conclude his Asia trip with a stop in South Korea.