JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – United States (US) secretary of defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, spoke on the phone with Indonesian minister of defense, Prabowo Subianto, discussed the regional security environment, including the challenging situation in the South China Sea, as well as bilateral defense cooperation. He also expressed his condolences for the recent terrorist attacks in Makassar, South Sulawesi and Jakarta.
“I had a great introductory conversation this morning with Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo, in which we discussed maritime security in the region and opportunities to improve our bilateral defense cooperation,” said Austin in an official statement released today.
Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of further developing defense relations between the two countries and highlighted the capstone Army-to-Army exercise, Garuda Shield, scheduled to take place in August as an opportunity to build greater interoperability between the armed forces.
US, Indonesia, and Japan have stepped up pressure on China over its activities in the South China Sea following an ongoing row with the Philippines. Earlier, secretary of state, Antony Blinken, tweeted that the US “stands with our ally, the Philippines”, in the face of the China’ maritime militia amassing at WhitsunReef.
“We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order,” he wrote.
On Sunday, Subianto, and his counterpart from Japan, Noubo Kishi, agreed to tighten the military ties on the South China Sea after China announced the extension of military drill being conducted by People’ Liberation Army. The ministers held 2+2 talks on Tuesday in Tokyo.
The two countries will hold a joint military exercise in the dispute areas to upgrade maritime defenses for its Southeast Asian ally nations. Kishi condemned China’ assertiveness and boat incursion near spratly islands near to Bataraza town in the western Philippine province of Palawan.
In the first face-to-face meeting of the two ministers, Subianto, emphasized is importan to “using diplomacy and dialogue in resolving disputes between countries, and uphold of the rule of law in dealing any disputes.” On Monday, both ministers has exchanged views on current regional security issues.
In a Blinken’ visit to Japan in mid-March, the US and Japan said they objected to China’s “unlawful” maritime claims in the South China Sea and underscored the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait. Tokyo has been in a similar dispute with Beijing in the East China Sea and has been voicing concern over a new law which gives China’ coast guard authority to fire on vessels intruding into what it considers its waters.
At least US$3.4 trillion in annual trade passes through the contentious waterway, which is subject to competing claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Vietnam.
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