World

US Defence Secretary in Jakarta to strengthen ties

JAKARTA: US Defence Secretary James Mattis yesterday completed a heady day of meetings in Indonesia to reinforce defence relations between the United States and South-east Asia's largest nation.

The visit is in line with a key part of a new US national security strategy unveiled last week, which centres on strengthening alliances.

Mr Mattis has also had meetings with Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto, Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, armed forces chief Hadi Tjahjanto and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

He is in Jakarta as part of a week-long tour of Asia, which includes a stop in Vietnam.

He has said maritime security cooperation will be among the issues he hopes to discuss in Hanoi. China claims almost all of the South China Sea, while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

Indonesia is not a party to the territorial dispute, and it enjoys mostly friendly ties with China.

Mr Mattis said the US wants to work with Indonesia, the maritime fulcrum of the Indo-Pacific, to ensure that the rule of law and freedom of navigation is upheld. - FRANCIS CHAN

WORLD