Leaders of Korea, Indonesia affirm their strategic partnership
President Yoon Suk-yeol stressed the strategic importance of Southeast Asia to Korea at a summit with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Seoul Thursday.
"In an era in which economy is security and security is the economy, economic and security cooperation between the two countries, such as stabilizing the supply chain, is very important," Yoon said at the start of bilateral talks at the presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul.
In response, Widodo said, "I am confident that the relationship between our two countries will be further strengthened under the leadership of President Yoon."
The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in economic security, defense, infrastructure and eco-friendly investments.
This was Yoon's first summit with a leader from one of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Widodo last visited Korea in November 2019. He is the second foreign leader to visit Seoul since Yoon's inauguration in May, after U.S. President Joe Biden.
The Indonesian president, popularly known as Jokowi, was accompanied by his wife Iriana Joko Widodo. They arrived at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Wednesday evening for a two-day visit. Earlier this week, Widodo kicked off a three-country East Asia tour which previously took him to China and Japan.
On Thursday morning, Widodo met with Korean business leaders including Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung and Posco CEO Kim Hag-dong.
Widodo arrived at the presidential office in Yongsan around 4:20 p.m.
He signed a guestbook with the message, "Indonesia is the right partner for ROK [Republic of Korea]."
The leaders held bilateral talks for nearly two hours. They watched the signing of a memorandum of cooperation for the promotion of sustainable green investment and then held a joint press conference.
"Indonesia is a leading country in Asean, and the only Southeast Asian country that Korea has a special strategic partnership with," said Yoon at the press conference.
He added that Korea and Indonesia are countries in the Indo-Pacific region that "share the goal of peace and common prosperity" and that "maintaining a norms-based international order serves the interests of both countries."
"I conveyed to President Widodo the strategic importance of Asean and our intentions to strengthen cooperation with Asean," said Yoon. "Based on our unwavering support for Asean centrality, we will harmonize our Indo-Pacific strategy with the Asean perspective."
The two sides agreed to strengthen economic security and supply chain stability, and bolster trade and investment, especially in high-tech industries such as electric vehicles, batteries and petrochemicals.
Yoon said the two leaders "agreed to build strategic solidarity in high-tech industries such as electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries by strengthening economic and security cooperation between the two countries," including the stabilization of supply chains for key minerals. Yoon noted that Indonesia is a country rich in minerals like nickel, important for Korean tech companies.
Describing defense as a key pillar of bilateral relations, Yoon said the two countries jointly celebrated the successful first test flight of the KF-21 advanced supersonic jet fighter earlier this month. Indonesia refers to the project as IF-X.
"The two countries reaffirmed their intentions to continue to cooperate so that the joint development of next-generation fighters can proceed smoothly until the very end," said Yoon.
He didn't elaborate further on if there had been discussion on Indonesia's overdue payments for the joint KF-21 project, also dubbed the Boramae.
Yoon's presidential office said in a statement, "The two countries are accelerating defense cooperation by jointly developing the next-generation KF-21 fighters."
They also shared the view that the entry into force of the Korea-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEPA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) — a mega free trade agreement that includes China, Japan, Korea and the 10 Asean nations — contributed to substantive cooperation between the two countries.
Yoon also said Korea will support Indonesia for the successful hosting of the G20 summit in Bali in November.
The leaders shared concerns about North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and agreed on the need for a unified response from the international community.
They agreed to work together on humanitarian issues such as the restoration of democracy in Myanmar and the Ukrainian crisis.
They further agreed to cooperate on Indonesia's capital relocation project, which will move its capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan. This could provide Korean companies opportunities to participate in infrastructure and housing construction projects.
Indonesia accounts for 41 percent of Asean's population with some 270 million people and 35 percent of the regional bloc's total gross domestic product (GDP).
The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1973 and celebrate the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties next year.
Yoon and Widodo attended an official banquet in the evening, joined by their wives, government officials and business leaders.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]