AFP: United States will step up its military cooperation with Indonesia

By Agence France-Presse; The United States will step up its military cooperation with Indonesia, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Singapore on Friday after meeting his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro. “The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of deepening ties (and) reviewed progress made in recent years to increase exercises and training, as well as regular defense policy dialogues,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said after the meeting. The two defense ministers met on the sidelines of Singapore’s annual security forum, the Shangri-La Dialogue, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Hagel recalled the importance of respect for human rights as a prerequisite for deeper military ties and “discussed American support for Indonesia’s military modernisation, including through US foreign military sales,” Little said. US interest in boosting military ties with Indonesia is in line with President Barack Obama’s “pivot,” or strategic shift, to the Pacific region announced in January 2012 after a decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, put a priority in his first term on building ties with the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, which has quickly embraced democracy since the 1990s. While some experts see the warming ties as more rhetorical than substantive, the United States has notably boosted relations with Indonesia’s military after earlier concerns about a special forces unit’s human rights record.

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