Jokowi inaugurates 13 new envoys

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo inaugurated on Wednesday 13 new ambassadors who will immediately set off for their diplomatic missions to various countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, two countries in the Middle East that are currently involved in a conflict against each other.

Terrorism expert Agus Maftuh Abegebriel was sworn in as the new envoy for Saudi Arabia and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), while Octavino Alimudin was inaugurated as Indonesian ambassador for Iran and Turkmenistan.

When asked about his plans, Agus said that other than seeking to improve bilateral ties between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, he would also push for peace and humanitarian diplomacy in the Middle East amidst the growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"Our first mission will be to spread peace in the Middle Eastern countries," Agus said at the State Palace on Wednesday morning after the inauguration ceremony. "Indonesia has a big potential to help mediate [the conflicts] because Indonesia, as the country with largest Muslim population, has numerous experiences in working on unity in diversity."

Octavino said that Indonesia could play roles in helping to bring peace to the Middle East through its involvement in various international organisations, including the OIC.

"But what is important for me, personally, is to improve bilateral ties with Iran, as well as Turkmenistan," Octavino said.

Foreign Ministry official Yuri Octavian Thamrin and former Indonesian ambassador to New Zealand Antonius Agus Sriyono were also sworn in: Yuri as ambassador to Belgium and the European Union and Antonius as ambassador to the Vatican.

A number of political allies and figures from groups who were believed to have supported Jokowi in last year's presidential election were also on the list, including Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Alexander Litaay, who was assigned to Croatia, United Development Party (PPP) politician Husnan Bey Fananie who is going to Azerbaijan and former National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker and member of Nadhlatul Ulama's (NU) women's wing Fatayat NU Safirah Machrusah, who is being sent to Algeria.

Other political appointees include the daughter of national hero Gen. Achmad Yani, Amelia Achmad Yani (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Diennaryati Tjokrosuprihatono, a former adviser to the education minister (Ecuador), critically acclaimed painter Sri Astari Rasjid (Bulgaria, Albania and Macedonia), Iwan Suyudhie Amri (Pakistan), Wiwiek Setyawati Firman (Estonia) and Tito Dos Santos Baptista (Mozambique and Malawi).

The 13 new ambassadors are among 33 candidates who were approved by the House of Representatives. Ten other envoys were inaugurated earlier.