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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Indonesian Minister of National Defense Prabowo Subianto Hold a News Conference

INDONESIAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE PRABOWO SUBIANTO: Good afternoon, your Excellency Secretary Austin and distinguished guests from the United States Defense Department. I welcomed his Excellency Secretary Austin and we had a very good bilateral meeting. We had intensive discussions about the major points that we actually have discussed in several of our meetings. Basically, in last two years, we already met. This is our third meeting or fourth meeting in the last two years.

And our last meeting was just one month ago, and we discussed the various issues that relates to our defense cooperation and I expressed to His Excellency, to the U.S. delegation, at our satisfaction with the current state of our relationship, the current state of our defense cooperation.

Our close defense cooperation has, let us say, been many decades in existence and in very good status. It's a very long relationship, and in many aspects of cooperation, in training and education, in military equipment, in joint military exercises, in intensive and extensive exchanges of experts, and also in the high level meetings between our defense officials. So in general, we agreed to continue this cooperation.

And there are some -- let us say some programs that has to be concluded, especially about the POW and MIA recovery from the United States Defense Department, for their Missing In Action and their -- the remains of their sailors, soldiers and airmen in Indonesian territory. And we promised to expedite this, to conclude all the relevant requirements, and we would like to support this because this is, I think, a very honorable and highly sacred duty of any leadership, to bring back their fallen heroes.

So on the whole, I would say, His Excellency, we had a good meeting, we see a very cooperative road ahead, and we look forward to enhancing this relationship.

Thank you.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Well, thank you, Mr. Minister, and good morning, everyone. I guess it's afternoon now, but good afternoon.

Mr. Minister, thanks for inviting me to Jakarta. It's great to be here and I'm especially pleased to be arriving on the heels of President Biden, and only a month after your visit to the Pentagon.

The frequency of these discussions between our two democracies underscores the importance of our partnership. The U.S. friendship with Indonesia stretches back more than 70 years, and the scope and scale of our defense cooperation only continues to grow, spurred by both our converging security interests and by our commitment to shared principles.

Now, we're meeting as the world is grappling with assaults on the rules-based international order, especially Russia's cruel and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. And it's especially vital now that like-minded countries come together to uphold our shared principles, including the rule of law, freedom of the seas, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

So I applaud Indonesia for its votes at the UN General Assembly earlier this year condemning Russia's illegal aggression against Ukraine. Those principled votes reinforce Indonesia's role as a global leader. And in its own region, Indonesia has shown impressive strength in defending your sovereignty and the region's security.

So Mr. Minister, the United States is proud to partner with you as we work together to advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. And during our meeting today, Minister Prabowo and I discussed ways to deepen our partnership, including through expanding interoperability and increasing investments in defense education.

Now, for more than a decade, our forces have exercised alongside each other and we continue to expand the scope and complexity of our engagements. Earlier this year, Indonesia hosted a Super Garuda Shield, with more than 4,000 combined forces from 14 countries, making it one of the largest multinational exercises in the region.

Our military leaders have also long trained and studied together. In fact, the professional military education and training exchanges between our two countries date back to 1970. And since then, more than 7,000 Indonesian military and civilian personnel have been educated in the United States. And we've provided more than $130 million in training and education funds to Indonesian students. Our own defense leaders have also benefited from Indonesia's outstanding institutions. More than 100 American military officers have been educated here and we continue to invest in the future.

As President Biden announced at the U.S.-ASEAN and East Asia Summits, we plan to fund new education and networking opportunities for emerging civilian defense leaders and increased English language training and professional military education and new institutional capacity-building engagements.

Now, we appreciate Indonesia's support for these efforts. Our investments in the next generation of leaders will help ensure that our shared vision of a secured, open, and prosperous region thrives in the decades ahead.

So Mr. Minister, thank you for your partnership and your leadership as we work together to build a brighter future. So thank you, and we'll be happy to take a couple of questions.

Q: Thank you, sir.

My name is (inaudible) Agency. I will deliver one question, the same question, to Prabowo and Secretary Austin. You spent more than one and a half hours in your conversation at your (inaudible). Is there any, something about South China Sea you are discussing about? What does the U.S. perspective about this? And also, from Indonesian perspective, because Indonesia is a traditional leader in ASEAN, if Indonesia can play more important role in South China Sea, in my belief, it will have, you know, from your point of view, from a freedom of (inaudible) and (inaudible).

Thank you.

MIN. PRABOWO: Thank you.

You go first?

SEC. AUSTIN: Okay, I'll say that, well, first of all, we are two of the largest democracies in the world. And we share common values. And those common values, I think, are instrumental in helping us to continue to build very, very strong bonds.

You've heard us both talk about what we're doing and training together in our opening comments. And what we're going to do to invest in the professionalization of the force going forward. I think that's very, very important. You are correct, Indonesia is a leader in the region, and because we share common values and a common vision for the region, we want it to be -- remain free and open.

You know, we -- there are a lot of things that we can and will look to continue to do together. And so, I think what we'll focus on going forward is making sure we continue to build on interoperability and we'll focus on modernization of capabilities. And I think those things will be instrumental to us, both of our nations, going forward.

MIN. PRABOWO: I would like to add our perspective. As Secretary Austin mentioned, we have good bridging interest also. United States is a great world trading nation. Indonesia is also a trading nation. We depend on freedom of navigation for our our trade, our exports and our imports. So, it's interest of all trading nations to have a zone of peace and stability.

And I would like to hear -- I would like also at this point to emphasize that Indonesia always takes the position of trying to maintain the best of relationships with all nations, especially all major powers. And we have openly declared many, many times that we consider China to be a friendly nation to Indonesia. And our way of managing possible misunderstandings, possible differences of opinions in the matters of territorial waters, et cetera, we consider we will be able to resolve them with dialogue, with friendly attitude and friendly relations.

However, we do emphasize that Indonesia will defend its sovereignty and will defend our independence. So we hope and, we hope and we will work together jointly, and we will do our best to maintain friendly relations in this region. Therefore, we have mechanisms such as high-level meetings between our leaders. As you know, President Biden and President Joko Widodo had a -- had a good meeting in Bali. Also, President Joko Widodo and President Xi Jinping had a good meeting also in Bali, and I just came from People's Republic of China, the invitation from Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe, and immediately after that I was greatly honored to host Secretary Austin. And being good friends to both, we consider ourselves we can help in maintaining communications, maintaining a relationship that can manage possible rise of tension. (UNTRANSLATED)

STAFF: Our next question will go to Jack Destch, Foreign Policy.

Q: Thank you so much.

Secretary Austin, you made an impassioned case at the Halifax Security Forum to continue military aid to Ukraine, but in the past months we've seen U.S. disbursements to Ukraine drop by about half per each a package, and Ukrainian officials are worried, of course, about ammunition shortages, about weapon shortages. Do you think Ukrainians are now getting enough military aid from the United States to sustain the fight? And of course, with the winter coming, do you think they can sustain the military gains and continue forward with about -- with the current level of assistance?

And Minister Prabowo, if I may, your meeting with Secretary Austin, as you said, just days after meeting with your Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, to announce new joint military exercises that are being resumed. But despite pressure from Western allies, you haven't dropped Indonesia's defense deals with the Russians and the Chinese, and you don't have many specific deliverables to announce today at the meeting with Secretary Austin. Does this signal at all that, you know, you guys' moving more towards China as a security partner?

Thank you.

MIN. PRABOWO: I'm not sure I get the essence of your question in the sense that we did -- we do not cease our defense procurements from Russia and China. Is that your question?

Q: Correct, yeah, they're -- you don't have any new deliverables to -- here with the United States regarding that, and despite pressure from Western officials, you haven't given up those deals. So I'm just curious how you see China as a security partner (inaudible).

MIN. PRABOWO: We have a long-standing relationship with Russia and China. We have relationships with Russia for many, many years. Our military uses Russian equipment. This is from many the case, many the case. And as I mentioned just before your question, our relationship with China is also very good, so our American friends know this and respect this, and our American friends do not pressure us, have never pressured us to cease our relationship with China. So we value our relationship with China, and as an independent and sovereign country, we reserve the right to use and acquire equipment from many, many countries. That's, I think, my answer.

SEC. AUSTIN: And Jack --

Q: And for the defense secretary --

SEC. AUSTIN: Yeah, Jack, in terms of your question on Ukraine, I think you know to this point, we've provided over $20 billion worth of assistance to Ukraine, and you've heard us say that we'll continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. And you also know that this is an international effort, and you know, that the entire Ukraine -- well, I host a Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting every month that consists of ministers from -- not only from NATO, but also from other countries around the globe. From the very first meeting, they have remained very committed to providing Ukraine as much assistance as we can provide Ukraine for as long as it takes.

We've seen Ukraine use that assistance in very artful ways, and they they've been very successful on the battlefield thus far. We've seen them take back -- we've seen them defeat the Russians in the battle of Kyiv. They've taken back Kharkiv. They've -- they have also most recently taken back the important town of Kherson.

And so we've seen a number of successes on the battlefield, and as we go forward into the winter, we've done a lot to try to prepare the Ukrainians to be prepared for a fight in the winter, and then -- and enable them to continue to keep pressure on their adversaries throughout the winter months. I think they'll be in much better condition than their adversaries because of the things that we've provided them. 

And again, our focus is to support them throughout. Their focus is to make sure that they're doing everything to take back every inch of their sovereign territory. So hard to predict how things will evolve and on what timeline, but we're in this in support of Ukraine for as long as it takes.


Q: My name is (inaudible) from (inaudible) newspaper. My question is about (inaudible) procurement for guiding the terms of technology aspects. For Minister Prabowo, my question, what are Indonesia's (inaudible)? And for Secretary Austin, my question is what are technology that U.S. feel you can provide to have interoperability with Indonesia Air Force?

Thank you.

MIN. PRABOWO: About the F-15, negotiations are continuing, and we are in advanced stages of that negotiation. And I think now is -- it will be dependent on (inaudible) government to finally decide to go ahead at this time because, as you know, the priority of the government now is to control the COVID-19 pandemic and to be prepared for the impact on the food situation -- food security of Indonesia and the impact on inflation caused by the rise of the energy prices around the world.

So the impact of the Ukraine War is very real and all the warnings from international institutions, from the World Bank, the IMF, the ADB, et cetera, and the warning about the climate situation next year, the El Nino, which will mean a long, dry period, which can impact our food production, this of course will factor in the final decision of the Indonesian government.

But as the Ministry of Defense, we have calculated, we have designed a program together with our American partners, industry -- in industry, that we are confident -- and I have advised our government that we are confident that the financial package is affordable, because these systems are systems that we will use for at least 25 to 30 years ahead. And we are in close discussions with Boeing for joint cooperation with our aviation industry, (inaudible).

Thank you.

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, we certainly support the Minister's efforts to continue to modernize their defense systems and capabilities, and -- and we want to be helpful in any way we can -- continue to be helpful in any way we can.

As you know, you already have a healthy contingent of F-16s, the F-15 platform provides additional capability, and those two platforms complement each other, just as you see in the U.S. forces, we have a number of different types of platforms that work together.

Now, the acquisition of the F-15 certainly increases interoperability, it enables our ability to share information, and as we train on those platforms, we'll train together to make sure that we're using common policies and practices. And I think that will increase the overall capability of -- whatsoever -- overall capability in terms of total capability.

So I think this platform brings a lot, if the leadership decides to go that route -- and I hope they do -- but again, in terms of specific instrumentation and capabilities, that's not something that I could address in this forum, so.

STAFF: Our final question will go to Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News.

Q: Minister Prabowo, on the Boeing fighter jets again, will you reach a deal on those jets by the end of the year, do you think? And is Boeing okay with Indonesia's request to pay for the jets in installments over time?

And for Secretary Austin, sir, on Elon Musk and China, some U.S. officials have been discussing whether there might be some potential national security risks from his business ventures. And Mark Warner, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, recently said that no American was more beholden to China than Elon Musk. Wondering if you'd be willing to share some thoughts on that please, sir?

SEC. AUSTIN: I certainly don't want to make any comments on any specific individuals. I would just say we do -- the Department of Defense does a -- does business with a number of different companies, and as you know, we have specific policies and procedures that we follow as we conduct that business. And we'll do -- everything that we do going forward will be as it always is, in accordance with laws and prescribed procedures, and I'll just leave it at that.

MIN. PRABOWO: Regarding the F-15 program, as I explained in my earlier response, the decision now is on the Indonesian government for the final political decision. Negotiations have advanced very well.

On the second part of your question, yes, we discussed with Boeing and they have agreed to -- to the financial package that we requested, and that has been arranged. So everything is in place. This is going to be a political decision. As they say, I'm responsible for defense. Political decision is -- what they say in the U.S. – “above my pay grade.”


So I'm not authorized to -- to make any political decisions.

Thank you.


SEC. AUSTIN: Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

MIN. PRABOWO: Thank you very much.