Panetta: U.S.-Indonesia Security Partnership Expanding

BALI, Indone­sia, Oct. 23, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said meet­ings here today fea­tured “very good dis­cus­sions” with his Indone­sian coun­ter­part.

Dur­ing the first full day of a week­long trip that also will take him to Japan and South Korea, Panet­ta spoke with reporters after a meet­ing with Indone­sian Defense Min­is­ter Purnomo Yus­giantoro this after­noon, which was ear­ly this morn­ing in the Unit­ed States.

The two dis­cussed “how to fur­ther deep­en the very close secu­ri­ty part­ner­ship” between the Unit­ed States and Indone­sia, the sec­re­tary said.

“I expressed our deep admi­ra­tion for Indonesia’s grow­ing lead­er­ship in region­al and glob­al issues,” Panet­ta said.

The Unit­ed States and Indone­sia are each diverse, dynam­ic nations whose rela­tion­ship is strength­ened by shared beliefs in tol­er­ance, plu­ral­ism and reli­gious free­dom, he added.

“Our defense rela­tion­ship con­tin­ues to devel­op in the con­text of the com­pre­hen­sive part­ner­ship that we’ve estab­lished,” Panet­ta said. “This year alone, the Unit­ed States is con­duct­ing more than 150 activ­i­ties, exchanges and vis­its with the Indone­sian mil­i­tary.”

Panet­ta said he and Purnomo dis­cussed three key areas: human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief, mar­itime secu­ri­ty and free sea access, and peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions.

The Unit­ed States also is firm­ly com­mit­ted to help­ing Indone­sia con­tin­ue to reform and increase pro­fes­sion­al­ism in its mil­i­tary forces, the sec­re­tary added.

“We also affirmed our shared belief that greater mul­ti­lat­er­al coop­er­a­tion and strong region­al insti­tu­tions are absolute­ly essen­tial, giv­en the com­plex­i­ty of the Asia Pacif­ic secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment,” Panet­ta said.

The sec­re­tary said he was grate­ful for Purnomo’s invi­ta­tion to address the Asso­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Nations min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing here today.

Despite increased bud­get pres­sures at home, Panet­ta said, he would assure the ASEAN defense min­is­ters the Unit­ed States will not decrease its pres­ence in and focus on the Asia-Pacif­ic region.

“The pur­pose of my vis­it is to make very clear to this region … that the Pacif­ic will remain a key pri­or­i­ty for the Unit­ed States,” the sec­re­tary said. “We will main­tain our force pro­jec­tion in this area … [and] we will remain a Pacif­ic pow­er.”

The Unit­ed States will do all it can in part­ner­ship with region­al nations to devel­op a strong, coop­er­a­tive secu­ri­ty rela­tion­ship, he added.

Panet­ta is sched­uled to meet with Indone­sian Pres­i­dent Susi­lo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono tomor­row before trav­el­ing on to Japan. Lat­er in the week, the sec­re­tary will con­clude his Asia trip with a stop in South Korea.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)