INDONESIAN Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi will visit three Pacific countries, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Fiji, with the mission to strengthen relations between Indonesia and the Pacific nations.
Minister Marsudi will visit Papua New Guinea on Feb. 26-28, Solomon Island on Feb. 28, and Fiji on March 1.
Indonesia is keen to strengthen its relations with the Pacific nations, particularly in the areas of economy and connectivity, Foreign Affairs Ministrys spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir, stated during a press briefing on Thursday.
“It will be the second working visit of Minister Marsudi after visiting Malaysia as the ASEAN chairman. This implies that Indonesia is serious about increasing cooperation with the Pacific countries as mentioned by the government in the annual press statement,” Mr Nasir explained.
Even though economic cooperation between Indonesia and Pacific was still relatively insignificant, but it has shown a steady increase in the last few years and has the potential to be developed further, Mr Nasir noted.
Minister Marsudi also aims to encourage private sector companies in Indonesia and Pacific countries to increase trade and investment, as well as connectivity.
“It cannot be denied that Indonesia is a gateway for Pacific countries to the ASEAN and Asian region, hence the connectivity must be developed,” Nasir remarked.
Mr Nasir added that during Indonesias chairmanship of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the issue of connectivity was also raised, and now, Indonesia is keen to enhance it.
In 2013, Indonesia committed to donate US$20 million to the Pacific countries to be used in various fields.
“The minister’s visit to the Pacific countries is also aimed to gain a better understanding about what they need,” Mr Nasir noted.
After visiting the three Pacific countries, Minister Marsudi will depart to New Zealand to attend the 7th Joint Ministerial Commission in Auckland, on March 2-3, 2015.
In Honiara today, Minister Marsudi will meet deputy prime minister Douglas Ete and Foreing Affairs minister Milner Tozaka.
She is also expected to donate some funds to the Solomon Islands Women in Business.
Solomon Islands opened its high commission in Jakarta last year.