Kerry to speak on global warming in Indonesia

Mr Kerry (left) turning a bolt during a tour of the Foton Cummins engine factory in Beijing last Saturday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry will give a major speech on global warming in Indonesia on 16th Feb, after a visit to China which pledged to join the United States in boosting efforts to fight climate change.

His arrival in Jakarta last Saturday on a two-day visit also comes amid ongoing tensions in the region over maritime disputes between China and other nations in the region, an issue which is also expected to be raised during Mr Kerry's talks in Indonesia.

But, before leaving Beijing, he highlighted environmental concerns, even as the pollution index reached "hazardous" levels and darkened skies in China's capital.

Both countries, the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases, said on Saturday that they would be sharing more information on combating climate change and work to implement such initiatives as emission reductions from heavy duty and other vehicles and smart grids.

"We both have a special role to play in reducing those emissions," Mr Kerry told workers at the Foton Cummins joint venture producing clean diesel engines.

Indonesia is also one of the world's biggest carbon emitters.

Widespread destruction of its rainforests, much of it by slash-and-burn agriculture, has produced an almost annual haze that has blanketed Singapore, an issue Mr Kerry is expected to address in today's speech.

His six-day, four-country tour of Asia is seen as part of a US move to stress its commitment to the region as part of its ongoing "rebalancing", and comes amid concern by some over China seeking to play a greater role in South-east Asia as well as the Indian Ocean.

Mr Kerry will meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh on Sunday and Monday.

In an interview with the Singapore media earlier this week, Dr Marty said that other than building on their wide-ranging bilateral cooperation on political, economic and social fronts when he meets Mr Kerry, he was keen on raising regional issues to ensure South-east Asia and East Asia remain "benign and peaceful".

One way, he said, is to promote the adoption of a legally binding treaty on non-use of force among countries in the wider region, so that the absence of conflict among ASEAN countries can be replicated.

"We are trying to project the same experience elsewhere, so that we hope that one day... China-Japan, Japan-Korea, China-India, China- US, can similarly govern their relationship based on the legally binding commitment to the non-use of force," he added.

Mr Kerry's visit comes days after a Chinese navy drill in waters between Indonesia and Australia saw Australia scramble an air force surveillance plane to monitor the flotilla of two destroyers and a landing ship.

Last Friday, Mr Kerry told reporters that Beijing has pledged to press Pyongyang harder on removing its nuclear weapons, indicating that China and the US can still work together - and more closely than ever - on other pressing issues, such as North Korea and climate change, despite their differences in managing regional tensions.

"They made it very clear that if the North doesn't comply and come to the table and be serious about talks and stop its programme... they are prepared to take additional steps in order to make sure their policy is implemented," he said.

Last Saturday, Mr Kerry also met Chinese bloggers who urged the US to push for greater online freedom in China.

zubaidah@sph.com.sg

kianbeng@sph.com.sg


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