U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chairs the first U.S.-Indonesian Joint Commission meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. September 17, 2010.
Read Full Transcript:
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, and thank you for being here as we conclude a very productive and in-depth meeting of the Joint Commission between our two countries. I particularly want to thank the foreign minister, as well as the new ambassador to the United States and the entire Indonesian delegation, for coming and for the great effort that they have invested in making today’s proceedings such a success.
This is the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Indonesia Joint Commission. It is based on the comprehensive partnership that our two presidents pledged in mid-2009, and it reflects the broadening, deepening, and elevating of the relationship between our countries.
We are very excited because of the results thus far; we are just getting started, but we can already see so many areas of mutual interest and cooperation. We are also very pleased that during the course of today, the foreign minister and I, along with our top aides, had a chance to discuss a range of regional and global issues, because, obviously, Indonesia is not only a great bilateral partner, it is a leader on behalf of so many of the important issues that we both are addressing.
We heard progress reports from the existing working groups on trade, investment, security, energy. We unveiled new initiatives in the areas of democracy, good governance, climate, the environment, education.
I am particularly excited about the new initiatives discussed to bring more Indonesian exchange students to the United States, and more American students to Indonesia. We have also discussed very specific ways to expand bilateral trade and to extend our cooperation on climate change and the promotion of democracy and human rights.
It has been a great pleasure for me to work with Marty over the course of the last year. We look forward to a lot of hard work ahead. I particularly like his suggestion that we begin a scorecard so that we can see very clearly the progress that we and our delegations across each of our governments is making on behalf of the goals and objectives that we have set forth.
Thank you so much, Marty.
FOREIGN MINISTER NATALEGAWA: Thank you very much, Hillary. I’d like to, once again, begin by expressing our most heartfelt appreciation to you, personally, to the rest of your team for so warmly welcoming us, and most of all, especially for ensuring the success of this, our first Indonesia-U.S. Joint Commission Meeting.
We have every reason to be pleased with the outcome of our deliberation today and the working groups yesterday. You have described well, Secretary, the state of our bilateral relations, the achievements that the working groups have been able to make. Especially, the point that I wanted to underscore is that it reflects a partnership between our two countries that is based on mutual respect, based on common interests, as well as shared benefits. And I have every confidence that the Joint Commission Meeting that we’ve begun today and the working groups that’s working and reporting to the Commission will make even greater progress in the year ahead. The scorecard idea, I think, will keep – will help ensure that we make precisely the kind of progress that we wish to see.
I also would like to underscore the point that Secretary Clinton made about the importance of our collaboration, not only bilaterally but also within the regional and even indeed the global context as well. Indonesia appreciates very much the further deepening not only of our bilateral relations, but also for the deepening and widening of the United States engagement with ASEAN, with the Southeast Asia region, and the East Asia region in general.
I look forward very much to the moment when Indonesia will be chairing ASEAN next year, 2011, to working very closely with Secretary Clinton, to working very closely with the United States in moving forward our common agenda, (inaudible) the peace and prosperity of our region.
And thank you very much once again, Secretary Clinton, for ensuring the success of our first inaugural meeting. And I look forward to welcoming your delegation, yourself especially, to Indonesia when we have our next JCM in 2011.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Thank you, Mr. Foreign Minister. I wanted to ask about – a bit about religious cooperation, Indonesia being the largest Muslim-majority country. There is – thank you, thanks. Excuse me. Indonesia being the largest Muslim-majority country, there was, of course, a very strong reaction to the since-canceled plans by a pastor in Florida to desecrate the Qu’ran.
What could the United States and Indonesia do together to try to promote the greater understanding between religions, particularly between Islam and the Western world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will begin by recognizing the very strong support that Indonesia provides to religious tolerance and respect within Indonesia. That is very important for Indonesians, but it also is an important part of Indonesian democracy.
We shared the deep concerns reflected by Indonesians and expressed eloquently by their president over the provocative threat of this very small group in Florida. And we, of course, in the United States Government and across all religions in our country and every walk of life, strongly condemned the provocation. It was a very important sign of our mutual respect and our cooperative understanding that we both took this action, and I have been very impressed by the Indonesian Government’s protection of individuals who are exercising their own religions.
This is a hard problem in a democracy, and it is one that we believe strongly we have to keep any open dialogue about, because we so respect the Indonesian approach to this issue and appreciate their working with us as we found our way through what was a very difficult challenge to us as well. I think as we saw, not only our Government, but the vast majority of Americans strongly condemned and rejected such an action.
And we will continue to work together and to make clear that the actions of an individual or a small group, as recently happened in Indonesia where an Indonesian Christian preacher was stabbed, the Government of Indonesia responded immediately; it didn’t represent the Indonesian people. And we have to stay focused on preventing such provocation, speaking out against it, and then if laws are broken, immediately moving to bring those to justice.
FOREIGN MINISTER NATALEGAWA: If I may add a little bit, Secretary Clinton. One point I’d like to emphasize is that both the United States Administration and the Indonesian Government share a common view with respect to the importance of promotion of religious tolerance and interfaith harmony.
Just last week, with the prospect of the burning of the holy book still very much current, the president of Indonesia spoke to the Indonesian public, and together with him were leaders of all the major faiths in Indonesia, not just Islam, but also Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity, and Hinduism – all the major faiths. And all of them, without exception, spoke strongly in favor of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue as well.
So we have been very much aware of the fact that the – such a conduct would have not – would not have represented the views of the U.S. Administration, certainly not the views of the great majority of Americans, and therefore, we are very much on the same page in clearly condemning such an act and in emphasizing the importance of promotion of religious harmony.
Indonesia is, obviously, a very diverse country. We celebrate our diversity, as a matter of fact. And therefore, when we promote our democracy, nowadays, it is very much in full recognition of the need to ensure that people of all faiths continue to enjoy the freedom to exercise their faiths.
QUESTION: Thank you. U.S. Congress questioning about the well-being of Papuans, also about the joint cooperation and accountability of Indonesian military, especially on Kopassus. And next week, they going to have hearings on this case. So can you comment on that, and how you can make Congress to understand our conflict, or convince the Congress?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as was announced in July, the United States Government decided to resume limited security cooperation with Kopassus within the limits of American law. Our decision was based on the democratic changes that have taken place within Indonesia and the reforms that continue to take place within the TNI and Kopassus.
Obviously, our ability to deepen and expand on these initial steps depends upon the implementation of the reforms. We intend to begin with staff-level discussions to build a common understanding of how we each operate and train. Human rights and accountability are critical issues for the United States and will remain an important part of our interactions with TNI and Kopassus moving forward. And we think there’s a great opportunity for progress and cooperation, and we look forward to beginning that.