Indonesian President Joko Widodo, pictured here to the left of US President Joe Biden during a summit of Southeast Asian leaders in the White House in May, suggested he might try to launch a peace initiative during his forthcoming visit to Europe.
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Indonesia’s president says the war in Ukraine must end as it drives up food and energy prices and puts developing countries like Indonesia at risk.
“The most important thing I worry about is the price of food. So we want the war in Ukraine to be stopped, resolved through negotiations so that we can concentrate [on] economy, “President Joko Widodo told CNBC in an exclusive interview in Serang town in Banten province on Friday.
“If not, it will never be over, it is dangerous for countries, especially developing countries.”
Jokowi, as he is popularly referred to at home, said the war should be resolved through negotiations and dialogue.
The Indonesian leader is attending the meeting of the group of 7 advanced economies at the invitation of the host country Germany from 26-28. June. Russian news agency Tass reported last week that Jokowi will meet with President Vladimir Putin on June 30.
“After the G-7, I will visit more countries that are related [to the] food problem, “he told CNBC’s Martin Soong. Jokowi declined to confirm whether he was visiting Russia or Ukraine, which are among the world’s largest producers and exporters of food grains.
Rivalry between the United States and China
The United States and China are involved in a struggle for dominance in Southeast Asia, with the United States calling the Indo-Pacific region “the heart of the American strategy,” and China claiming territorial claims across almost the entire South China Sea.
Asked whether Indonesia was trapped in the geopolitical battle between the United States and China, Jokowi insisted that his country was “close friends” with both.
The Indonesian president went on to say that Indonesia’s trade relations with both countries remained strong and that the United States and China are both strategic partners in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
US bilateral trade with Indonesia amounted to more than $ 37 billion in 2021, while bilateral trade in services was estimated at $ 2.4 billion by 2020, according to the State Department.
China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner, with trade estimated at $ 124.34 billion in 2021, according to Chinese customs data reported by the Indonesian Embassy in China.
On the strategic Quad alliance or AUKUS nuclear and security agreement that Australia signed with Britain and the United States last year, it risks angering China, Jokowi said: “We do not want our region to become the platform for rivalry. [between] large countries. “
“We want this region to be peaceful so that we can build our country and have better economic growth. Rivalry, let alone war, will not be beneficial to any country.”
Relations with Australia
Following Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement, Indonesia said it was “deeply concerned” about the “continued arms race and power projection in the region.”
Pressed on whether Indonesia’s relations with Australia became sour as a result of the AUKUS, Jokowi said: “Most importantly, we want Indonesia and Australia to have [a] better conditions in the future, in investments, in trade and others, we want it to be better. “
He expressed hope that relations with Canberra could be improved under the leadership of the new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“We both want our conditions to be better, closer and more concrete in investment and trade. For now we already have Indonesia Australia CEPA, so it is our common goal to be open so that goods from Australia can enter Indonesia. , goods from Indonesia can enter Australia, “the president said.
“I think it’s a very good relationship.”
– CNBC’s Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.