India, Indonesia release Vision Document 2025 on bilateral ties

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) In a major boost to New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ Policy, India and Indonesia on Monday released a Vision Document 2025 on bilateral ties during Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit here while deciding to hold annual summit-level meetings.

“Leaders of both countries had earlier mandated the setting up of an Eminent Persons Group to draw up a Vision Document 2025 to serve as a blueprint for our bilateral relations,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement following bilateral talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Widodo.

“After three sittings during 2016, the report is now ready and was released on the occasion of the visit (of Widodo) by (Indonesian) Foreign Minister Retino Marsudi and Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar,” it stated.

Indonesia is the largest of the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional grouping.

The Vision Document covers five areas: Strategic engagement; defence and security cooperation; comprehensive economic partnership; cultural and people-to-people links; and cooperation in responding to common challenges.

Indonesia is India’s largest direct trade partner in the Asean with about $16 billion in two-way trade as also a major target for outward investment with about $15 billion.

According to the statement, both sides “agreed to annual meetings of the leaders”.

The two countries also agreed to commence a strategic dialogue and a security dialogue apart from starting negotiations on a new comprehensive defence cooperation agreement.

Both sides agreed that the following mechanisms will meet within the first six months of 2017: Joint ministerial commission; defence ministers dialogue and joint defence cooperation committee; biennial trade ministers forum; and energy forum at ministerial level.

Following Monday’s talks, India and Indonesia signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on cooperation in the fields of youth affairs and sports as well as standardisation, and also issued a joint communique on illegal and unauthorised fishing.

The two sides also affirmed commitment to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

“Both leaders affirmed that India and Indonesia are maritime neighbours whose relations are rooted in civilisational contacts developed through the seas and who share similar perceptions of the evolving maritime environment in the region and the world at large,” said a joint statement on maritime cooperation.

“Both leaders recognised their shared commitment to democracy, pluralistic society, human rights and the rule of law,” it stated.

The statement said that both Modi and Widodo affirmed the two countries’ “deep respect for each other’s contribution to promoting peace, stability and development in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and beyond”.

“Both leaders committed to maintaining a maritime legal order based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).”

Earlier on Monday, Widodo, who assumed the presidency of Indonesia in October 2014, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

In the afternoon, Vice-President Hamid Ansari called on him. This was followed by a banquet in the evening in honour of the visiting dignitary by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Widodo is accompanied by his wife Iriana Joko Widodo, seven cabinet ministers and a 22-member business delegation from Indonesia.

This is the first presidential visit from Indonesia to India in nearly six years since the visit of then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in January 2011.