Subject: Indonesia-India security pact paves the way to military equipment joint production

The Jakarta Post Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Indonesia-India security pact comes into effect

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Defense Ministry announced Monday that a security agreement between Indonesia and India, which had previously been ratified by the House of Representatives, had come into effect, paving the way for the joint production of military equipment.

Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Edy Butar Butar said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had issued a decree to put the agreement into force.

"We are now discussing the establishment of a joint committee to implement the agreement. The committee, which will be chaired by the secretary general of both defense ministries, will decide on the areas of cooperation to be pursued," he said.

Edy said that possible areas of cooperation could include human resources training, the exchange of officers, joint border patrols, and fighting terrorism and sea piracy.

The Foreign Ministry's director for South Asia, Asruchin, said the agreement would become the legal basis for Indonesia to procure military equipment from India and embark on joint ventures for its production.

"Besides raising security cooperation between Indonesia and India, the agreement will also help enhance security in the region," he said.

Military analysts have said that the agreement would help the development of the local defense industry and create opportunities for the transfer of technology between the two countries.

India is a significant military equipment producer, having cooperated with Russia since the 1970s.

Military think tank ProPatria Institute director, P. Hari Prihatono, said Indonesia could benefit from joint production with India's more advanced military industry, which he said had created several innovative designs.

He said that India could offer a model for the development of local industries with players like PT Pindad, PT PAL and PT Dirgantara Indonesia as potential beneficiaries.

Indonesia relied heavily on the United States for its weapons and military equipment in the past. That changed when the U.S. slapped a military embargo on the country in 1992 after reports of human rights abuses in the then province East Timor.

The U.S. military assistance restrictions were withdrawn earlier this year, but the Indonesian government is still seeking to diversify its suppliers.

The government has agreed to buy US$1 billion in Russian weapons during the next five years, with the first shipment expected next year.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has said Indonesia would continue diversifying its military equipment sources to avoid dependency on the U.S.

Experts also said working with India would be a way for Indonesia to help Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations check the power of China in the region.

India welcomed the ratification of the agreement, saying it was of great significance, coming soon after the "New Strategic Partnership" declaration signed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Yudhoyono.

"With the important role being played by the two maritime neighbors in regional security, the defense agreement, which is now effective, will enable a significant increase in bilateral defense and security ties," the Indian Embassy in Jakarta said in a statement on Friday.

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------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service 


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