x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Indonesia warns against a return to 'Cold War power politics'

While not specifically naming China, the Indonesian foreign minister warns against any Cold War-style attempt to contain a rising country.

CANBERRA // The Indonesian foreign minister warned against any Cold War-style attempt to contain China after arriving in Australia yesterday for foreign policy and security talks.

While not specifically naming China, Marty Natalegawa told a university forum in Canberra that "the management or the containment of a rising country, we believe, would see the return of old-style Cold War power politics".

"The Asia-Pacific environment would benefit from avoidance of Cold War-type competition and conflict," Mr Natalegawa told Canberra's Australian National University, where he was a doctoral student.

He is to take part today in the first joint meeting of Indonesian and Australian foreign and defence ministers.

Barack Obama, the US president, announced plans in November to send US military aircraft and up to 2,500 marines to Australia's north for a training hub to help allies and protect American interests across Asia.

The closer military ties between Australia and its most important defence ally, the United States, are seen as a reaction to China's increasing military assertiveness in Asia.

The Australian foreign minister, Bob Carr, who was sworn in as a senator and cabinet minister on Tuesday, said he looked forward to wide-ranging discussions with Mr Natalegawa and the Indonesian defence minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro.

"This dialogue with our Indonesian friends and neighbours serves as an essential forum for identifying areas of future bilateral cooperation," Mr Carr said.

Stephen Smith, the Australian defence minister, said Australia and Indonesia are working to expand defence and security cooperation and bolster coordination on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, international peacekeeping, antipiracy efforts and maritime security.

Mr Natalegawa said relations between the two countries "have never been as close as they are today".