Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on his first official visit to Indonesia, met President Joko Widodo on Wednesday and discussed strategic cooperation between the two countries in an effort to boost economic and cultural ties.
India and Indonesia signed 15 agreements, including one to boost defence cooperation and called for freedom of navigation in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
PM Modi said: “As mutual partners and neighbours, our worries are similar. It is our duty to ensure maritime security and safety. This is also for the safety of our economic interests.”
A joint statement by President Widodo and PM Modi said that the two countries had signed the Defence Cooperation Agreement which will further strengthen and renew the existing cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two countries and the region.
Modi also strongly condemned the recent terror strikes on three churches in Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya and said India stands resolutely with Jakarta in the fight against terrorism. The two leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism and terror-related incidents in Indonesia and India and affirmed that perpetrators of these heinous acts must be brought to justice.
Later, Modi addressed the Indian diaspora, where he announced a free 30-day visa for those travelling to India. He invited them to attend the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad next year saying it would give them a glimpse of ‘New India’. “We have to make a ‘New India’. We have to start working to realise the dream of New India by 2022, when India will celebrate 75 years of her independence,” Modi said.
Modi lauded the efforts of the people and government in rescuing Indian nationals stranded in Bali and Surabaya during volcano eruption last year and saying: “For this human act, I praise you with all my heart and I thank you. Showing such gestures of human values have been an integral part of India. We are living this with the same spirit in India,” Modi said.
He further said that, “There is a sensitive government in New Delhi which does not see the colour of the passport. For us, an Indian is important. And in times of calamities, in the last four years in different places, we have rescued and brought back more than 90,000 people without seeing the colour of their passports.”
PM Modi was accorded a red carpet welcome on his arrival at the Merdeka palace, one of the presidential palaces in Indonesia, on Wednesday morning. PM Modi will land in Malaysia tomorrow for a brief stopover and then travel to Singapore. He is on a five-day, three-nation tour to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in his bid to boost Act East Policy and enhance relations with all the three countries.
(With PTI inputs)