Maritime security will head the agenda as Australia and other Indian Ocean nations meet in Jakarta, with Indonesia pushing governance in a bid to prevent another South China Sea.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will meet with President Joko Widodo for the second time in less than two weeks when he attends the 20th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) summit in Jakarta this week.
With two thirds of the world’s oil shipments and half of the world’s container ships passing through the Indian Ocean, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said it was vital to maintain stability in the waters and increase IORA’s role on the international stage.
The Jakarta summit will be the first time heads of states will meet under IORA.
“The challenge in Indian Ocean is getting stronger. We also see that in Indian Ocean, there’s only one organisation in it – which is IORA. We see that there is a vacuum in leadership,” Director General for Asia Pacific, Indonesian Foreign Ministry, Desra Percaya told reporters last week.
When looking at the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Mr Desra said one of the biggest problems is that there is no agreed framework of behaviour or code of conduct within the waters.
“For our strategic interest, we don’t want the Indian Ocean to become a region where there is major fighting for influence or power.
“Since the very beginning we want to cultivate governance based on international law especially UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).”
Sixteen presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers and deputy prime ministers will be attending the summit, Ms Marsudi said – which also provides a opening for cooperation with Africa.
The Association, whose members states include Singapore, Thailand, the UAE, India and Iran, also hopes to adopt an action plan that will outline a four-year plan for tackling security, safety and female economic empowerment in the ocean.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Indonesian counterpart Ms Marsudi had a bilateral meeting on Sunday night, following the first day of the summit, in which they discussed strengthening the economic partnership between the two countries.
Mr Turnbull is scheduled to arrive in the capital on Tuesday, with Trade Minister Steve Ciobo touching down on Monday for Indonesia-Australia Week.
© AAP 2017
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