Indonesia highlights Palestine issues during ASEAN-US Summit

Indonesia highlights Palestine issues during ASEAN-US Summit
US President Barack Obama hosts a meeting with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during a summit held at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California on February 16, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has encouraged ASEAN and the US to play greater roles in resolving conflicts in Palestine.

During a working dinner with US President Barack Obama and other ASEAN leaders in California on Monday, Jokowi said two major issues that should be considered by the US and ASEAN were peace in the South China Sea and Middle East.

Jokowi also reminded of the urgency to resolve disputes in Palestine, highlighting that Indonesia had consistently supported the independence of Palestine.

"I encourage ASEAN and the US to continue to contribute to resolving the Palestinian issues," the President said in a statement on Tuesday.

As a concrete manifestation of Indonesia's commitments, Jokowi said, conflicts in Palestine would be among issues to be addressed at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Extraordinary Summit, to be held in Jakarta on March 6 to 7.

Commenting on mounting tensions in the Middle East, Jokowi expressed his concerns about deteriorating tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. He said unresolved conflicts in Palestine and Syria had resulted in thousands of refugees to flow out of the country.

At the same time, he further said, counterterrorism efforts were still far below expectation, with the number of foreign terrorists on the rise.

Jokowi said Indonesia could not stay silent on the matter. "I have sent our foreign minister [Retno LP Marsudi] to Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East to rally for peace," he said.

Furthermore, Jokowi said Indonesia had proposed the establishment of a Code of Conduct-like mechanism containing the principles of building trust, respecting the sovereignty of other countries and non-interference on domestic affairs of other countries.

"This is one key to peace in the Middle East," Jokowi said.

On South China Sea tensions, Jokowi stressed the importance for all parties to stop activities that could inflict greater tensions in the region.

He said international laws must be respected to maintain peace and stability in the region. As a non-claimant state, he added, Indonesia aimed to contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea.

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