Singapore

S'pore, Indonesia will continue 'RISING together'

Singapore and Indonesia marked 50 years of diplomatic ties at a Leaders' Retreat yesterday by declaring they would remain "trusted partners, RISING together".

While "RISING" - "ri" for Republic of Indonesia and "sing" for Singapore - was coined by diplomats to mark the jubilee, the leaders of the two nations also declared a desire to be friends for the long haul.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his toast at an Istana lunch in honour of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, said that while the two countries are neighbours by geography, they are partners by choice, and both are committed to broadening and deepening cooperation.

He noted earlier that generations of leaders from both sides had taken a long-term and win-win approach to cooperate for mutual benefit and solve problems amicably and rationally.

"As a result, today we have a strong partnership based on mutual trust and respect," he said.

His words were echoed by Mr Joko, in Singapore for his second retreat with Mr Lee in as many years, as the two leaders look to take ties forward.

"We are neighbours by God's will, by geography, but we are and always will be good neighbours and close friends by choice," said Mr Joko.

"To this end, it is essential to always ensure that our next 50 years of cooperation is one that is based on mutual trust and mutual confidence and brings equal and mutual benefit to our peoples."

The leaders held a "four-eye" meeting before a high-powered Indonesian delegation sat down with their Singapore counterparts for bilateral talks yesterday morning.

The leaders also noted the strong existing cooperation in trade, investment and tourism, and affirmed both sides' readiness to start negotiations on a new Bilateral Investment Treaty.

Mr Lee said at a joint press conference earlier that he appreciated Mr Joko's personal efforts in tackling forest and land fires and expressed Singapore's commitment to work with Indonesia to address the transboundary haze issue as well as on counter-terrorism.

Mr Joko said while the future holds many new challenges, he was "glad that the discussion... with PM Lee was focused on our cooperation ahead, including the development of digital economy".

Nine memoranda of understanding were signed yesterday, including one between the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Indonesia's National Disaster Management Authority.

tkchan@sph.com.sg

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indonesiaLee Hsien LoongJoko Widodo