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No Joint Statement With US on China’s South China Sea Claims: Subianto

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has clarified that he has not issued any joint statement with the US Secretary of Defense regarding China’s claims in the South China Sea.

“Yes, it is a statement, but there was no joint statement, nor was there a press conference,” he said in Jakarta on Thursday.

He met with his US counterpart, Lloyd J. Austin III, last week during a working visit to the United States.

During the visit, Subianto witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement between Indonesian and US defense industries on the purchasing of F-15EX fighter jets and Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk helicopters.

At the meeting, he and the US Defense Secretary discussed bilateral relations in the defense sector and sought to expand their coverage. They also discussed security issues in the region.

After the meeting, on August 24, 2023, the US Department of Defense issued a joint press statement stating that the two ministers shared the view that China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea are inconsistent with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

According to the statement, Austin and Subianto also jointly condemned the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demanded its complete and unconditional withdrawal from Ukrainian territory.

No joint statement was issued following last week’s meeting, Subianto reiterated.

“The important thing is, I can underline here that we (Indonesia) have very good relations with China. We build mutual respect and understanding. I conveyed that in the US. We are close friends with China, we respect America, and we seek friendship with Russia. Indonesia’s position is clear that we are non-aligned. We befriend all countries,” he said.

The minister then disclosed his plans to visit Moscow in Russia and Beijing in China this year.

“I will visit Moscow, I also have an invitation to visit Beijing in October. Insya Allah (God willing), I was invited. We want to befriend all countries. If possible, we can become a bridge for all,” Subianto added.