Ansari in Indonesia; energy, culture MoUs to be inked

Jakarta/New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) India’s Vice President Hamid Ansari reached Indonesia on Sunday on an official visit during which both countries will sign agreements on new and renewable energy and on cultural exchanges.

Ansari, who will be in Indonesia till November 4 at the invitation of his Indonesian counterpart Jusuf Kalla, is accompanied by four members of parliament, officials, media persons and a large business delegation, said a statement from the Indian embassy in Jakarta.

The vice president and his wife were received at the airport by Vice Foreign Minister A.M. Fachir, India’s Ambassador Gurjit Singh and other dignitaries.

En route to Jakarta, Ansari said India enjoys close and cordial relations with Indonesia, and would seek to renew its friendship during the ongoing visit.

As a maritime neighbour and a strategic partner, with a number of cultural similarities, including its own multicultural and multi-linguistic character, India has traditionally enjoyed close relations with Indonesia, the vice president’s Secretariat in Delhi quoted Ansari as saying.

Ansari said that on the economic side, there exists trade worth about $20 billion between the two nations.

India’s investments in Indonesia have also been increasing, and India is also an important buyer of Indonesian palm oil and coal, he said.

“This is a relationship that our successive leaderships have cultivated over the years,” he added.

Asked about security cooperation with Indonesia, the vice president said India has cooperation at the level of defence ministries and between the armed forces, as well as on internal security.

On skill development, he said India was offering a number of scholarships under various programmes to Indonesia.

Ansari will visit Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, and meet its head H. Mubarok, and Grand Imam K.H. Ali Mustafa Yakub.

On Monday, Ansari will hold official talks with Kalla, and also call on President Joko Widodo.

A meeting with former president Megawati Sukarnoputri is also expected, the embassy said.

Ansari will visit parliament where he will meet Speaker Zulkifli Hasan and Chairman Irman Gusman.

The governments of India and Indonesia are expected to sign memoranda of understanding on cooperation in new and renewable energy and on cultural exchanges.

The two countries will also exchange notes on acceptance and coming into effect of the Extradition Treaty and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

An MoU will also be signed for establishment of an ayurveda chair at the Faculty of Medicine at Sudirman Campus in Denpasar in Bali.

India and Indonesia enjoy a long standing shared historical affinity and close cultural ties.

The Indian mission said Ansari’s visit will provide an opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen bilateral relations including commercial, investment and strategic ties.

The Indian vice president will also visit Brunei.

On India’s relationship with Brunei, Ansari said the kingdom has been very friendly to India. “We have been maintaining cordial relations with the country,” he said.

On the economic side, he said India imports almost $1 billion worth of crude oil, and that there was a large Indian community in Brunei which was making its contribution in the fields of medicine, education and business.

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