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emfizz.com December 15, 2017


VP Pence praises Indonesia's democratic, tolerant values

22 April 2017, 01:06 | Terri Saunders

Washington is "taking steps to strengthen our partnership with ASEAN and deepen our friendship", Pence said, resolving to strengthen economic ties and security cooperation in combating terrorism and in the disputed South China Sea.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivers a speedh during his visit at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

"These deals represent the tremendous excitement that American companies feel about opportunities in Indonesia", Mr Pence said during a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

According to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, the topics included strengthening economic and investment cooperation, maritime cooperation, counterterrorism, boosting mutual understanding of religious tolerance and the moderate values of Islam, and the sustainability of United States involvement in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically in Southeast Asia.

"As the second- and third-largest democracies in the world, our two countries share many common values including freedom, the rule of law, human rights and religious diversity", Pence said.

Pence arrived in Jakarta late on Wednesday from Japan where he reassured Tokyo of a USA commitment to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions.

Pence praised Indonesia's moderate form of Islam as "an inspiration" at the start of a visit to the Muslim-majority country seen as a bid by his administration to heal divisions with the Islamic world.

"Vice-President Pence is a very reassuring figure", one senior Canberra source told the Sydney Morning Herald.

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The Trump administration has put Indonesia on a list of 16 countries whose trade surpluses with the United States will be put under review.

Still, Lowy Institute research fellow Aaron Connelly says any visit by a senior United States official is going to have to do some remedial work in terms of interfaith relations, given Trump's reputation on these issues. "In your nation as in mine, religion unifies, it doesn't divide".

The Vicepresident defended the need of an agreement for both parts that allows USA exporters a full participation in the Indonesian market.

USA firms have faced a tough business climate in Indonesia, with companies like Google and mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc. getting embroiled in disputes with authorities there.

Pence's visit, part of a 10-day tour across Southeast Asia, comes a day after the Indonesian capital of Jakarta elected a new Muslim governor who had promoted Islamist views through his campaign.

He slipped off his shoes before being guided around the mosque, which is also the biggest in Southeast Asia, accompanied by his wife and two daughters in headscarves, as well as Istiqlal's Grand Imam Nasaruddin Umar.

Pence foreshadowed the potential for trade negotiations with Indonesia, and Widodo said that come next month the nations will establish a team to "discuss the arrangement of trade and investment bilateral between the countries based on the principles of win-win solution".



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