Indonesia Seeks to Boost Economic Cooperation with Iran

A03779682.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to arrive here in Iran on Monday to discuss expansion of economic and energy ties with the Islamic Republic officials.

The reciprocal visit Yudhoyono will make is only a few days after Jakarta showed to the world its true identity by abstaining from voting on the UN additional sanctions against Iran’s nuclear programs last Monday.

With regard to the visit, Hariyadi Wiryawan, an expert on international relations at the University of Indonesia, called the government of Indonesia to use the political momentum to forge mutually beneficial economic cooperation with Iran following Yudhoyono’s visit from March 10 to 12 with Tehran.

From the political aspect, Yudhoyono’s visit would be a good momentum to improve the economic relations, he cited.

Some cooperation agreements signed by the two countries during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Indonesia in May 2006 which have yet to be realized need a stronger commitment to materialize them.

“Especially that the upcoming visit is aimed at strengthening the two countries’ relations in many aspects, including the economic sector,” he noted.

In the meantime, Dr Sofyan Siregar, a lecturer of the European Islamic University in Rotterdam who happens to be on a visit to Indonesia, said that the abstention in the UN voting for an additional sanction on Iran would indirectly show Indonesia’s siding with the Islamic Republic in developing its nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Indonesia has taken the right step amid a negative perception of the West in seeing it. The government of Indonesia should not worry about the opinion of the western countries because of its abstention.

According to him, so far Indonesia often tried to bridge US-Iran relations in a bid to help resolve the Iranian nuclear program.

Sofyan said that it would be much better for Indonesia to discuss cooperation with Iran to develop a nuclear power plant.

Such cooperation on this kind of energy is a breakthrough in a bid to strengthen relations between the two countries in energy, in addition to the economic sector.

In the meantime, Dino Patti Djalal, presidential spokesman, said Indonesia still supported Iranian rights to build its nuclear sector for peaceful purposes in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Indonesia will continue a dialogue on nuclear issues in order to arrive at a peaceful and dignified solution. However, the focus of the meeting of two countries’ heads of state in Tehran is more directed at improving relations in the field of energy and trade.

In the last two years, the two countries had exactly a strong commitment to developing sciences in energy and generating trade sectors.

Iran once expressed interest in investment in the energy sector, while Indonesia would be engaged in the agricultural sector.

The two heads of state are scheduled to witness the signing of a number of memoranda of understanding which among others include agriculture, education, trade and youths, Dino said.

Yudhoyono’s meeting with some figures in Iran during the visit will be put on the agenda. But, the visit will take place in the wake of a strong debate pertaining to the UN additional sanction on Iran.

While President Yudhoyono’s visit to Iran could be expected not to cause any impact following the UN resolution 1803 which had been approved, it would again show to the world Indonesia as a sovereign country is free to build and strengthen its relations with whatever country in the world.

Especially that the visit is to be conducted after Indonesia’s rejecting the UN Security Council’s insistence to issue more additional sanctions on Iran after President Ahmadinejad’s success in recording a historic visit to Iraq since the involvement of the two countries in war in 1980s.

Yudhoyono is scheduled to visit Iran in the first leg of his foreign tour which will take him to Senegal to attend the eleventh Summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and a working visit to South Africa.

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