ASEAN expected to adopt Indo-Pacific concept in 2019

Singapore (ANTARA News) - The 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is expected to adopt the Indo-Pacific Concept in 2019.

"The concept of Indo-Pacific launched by Indonesia and ASEAN received positive response from the heads of state or government attending the regional summit meeting. Therefore, it is expected that in 2019, there would be joint statement of "ASEAN`s Indo-Pacific" when the heads of state and government gather at the 34th summit meeting of ASEAN in Thailand," Director General of ASEAN Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry Jose Antonio Morato Tavares, said here on Friday.

He said Indo-Pacific is a concept initiated by Indonesia giving stress on "soft approach". Indo-Pacific seeks to strengthen cooperation between participating countries in the East Asia Summit Conference and other partners among the Indian Ocean rim countries.

"There was no signs of rejection to the Indo-Pacific concept from the heads of state and government attending the 13th Summit meeting of East Asia," he said.

He said the Indo-Pacific concept presented by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in the 13th East Asia Summit Meeting is different from the ones proposed by the United States and Japan.

"The Indo-Pacific concept initiated by the President is different from the one proposed by the United States. We speak about soft approach and people to people. The one by the United States speaks about military power. The concept proposed by Japan is about assistance for the regional countries related to infrastructure development," he added.

Therefore, the Indo-Pacific concept of Indonesia could serve as a bridge for other countries, he said.

Earlier, President Jokowi presented the Indonesian concept of Indo-Pacific cooperation comprehensively and in greater details in his address to the 13th East Asia Summit Meeting at the Suntec Convention Centre, Singapore on Thursday.

"In the East Asia Summit Meeting in 2014, Indonesia presented its vision of World Maritime Axis giving stress on the importance of stronger maritime cooperation in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans," Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said in a news conference at Hotel Conrad, Singapore on Thursday.

In President Jokowi`s view , development of Indo-Pacific cooperation is important to have a number of principles beside regional cooperation.

"I repeat cooperation, not rivalry, inclusiveness, transparency and openness," President Jokowi was quoted as saying by Retno.

Other principles include observation of and respect for international law, he said.

"He said development of Indo-Pacific cooperation does not need the forming of new institution," President Jokowi said.

Indo-Pacific cooperation is expanded through closer cooperation between East Asia Summit participants to be expanded later involving other partners among Indian Ocean rim countries.

Indo-Pacific cooperation could be focused on maritime cooperation including elimination of maritime crimes , cooperation in connectivity to boost economic growth and cooperation to create sustainable development.

In the ASEAN-China summit meeting on Wednesday, President Jokowi asks China to take part in the collaboration to implement the Indo-Pacific cooperation concept.

"We are facing regional security challenges, not only in the Pacific but also in the Indian Oceans," Jokowi said at the 21st ASEAN-China summit meeting here.

ASEAN and China have no choice but to collaborate in facing the challenges, he said, adding "One issue I want to underline is the importance of ASEAN and China to strengthen Indo-Pacific cooperation."

He said ASEAN and its partners have to cooperate closely in facing global uncertainty and challenges.

ASEAN sees China as a potential partner in promoting Indo-Pacific cooperation.

Jokowi said ASEAN and China could promote cooperation in the sector of maritime affairs.

"I hope China could become a partner of ASEAN in cooperation in the maritime sector in the Indo-Pacific region including in maintaining maritime security in the Pacific and Indian Oceans` and to cope with sea pollution and expanding the search and rescue capacity in the sea," he said.

In addition, initiatives of ASEAN and China on connectivity could create synergy and support each other, he said.

Regional connectivity in Indonesian vision, which is in line with the ASEAN Connectivity 2025 could be coupled with the initiative of "Belt and Road" of China to strengthen regional connectivity, he said .


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