Indonesian President Joko Widodo, shown here standing to the left of US President Joe Biden during a summit meeting of Southeast Asian leaders at the White House in May, hinted that he might try to launch a peace initiative during his upcoming visit to Europe.
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Indonesia’s president has said the war in Ukraine must end because it raises food and energy prices and puts developing countries like Indonesia at risk.
“The most important thing for me is the price of food. So, we want to stop the war in Ukraine, and solve it by negotiation so we can focus [on] President Joko Widodo told CNBC in an exclusive interview in Serang, Banten province, on Friday.
“If not, it will never end, it is dangerous for countries, especially developing countries.”
Jokowi, as he was generally referred to back home, said that the war should be resolved through negotiations and dialogue.
The Indonesian leader will attend a meeting of the Group of Seven advanced industrialized nations at the invitation of host country Germany from June 26-28. Russian news agency TASS reported last week that Jokowi would meet President Vladimir Putin on June 30.
“After G-7, I will visit many related countries [to the] He told CNBC’s Martin Song that Jokowi declined to confirm whether he was visiting Russia or Ukraine, two of the world’s largest producers and exporters of food grains.
The competition between the United States and China
The United States and China are locked in a struggle for hegemony in Southeast Asia, with the United States calling the Indo-Pacific region “the heart of American grand strategy,” and China asserting its territorial claims over nearly all of the South China Sea.
Asked whether Indonesia was caught up in the geopolitical conflict between the United States and China, Jokowi insisted that his country is a “good friend” of both.
The Indonesian president went on to say that Indonesia’s trade relations with both countries have remained strong, and the United States and China are both strategic partners of Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
US bilateral trade in goods with Indonesia reached more than $37 billion in 2021, while bilateral trade in services reached an estimated $2.4 billion in 2020, according to the State Department.
China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner, with trade estimated at $124.34 billion in 2021, according to Chinese customs data reported by Indonesia’s embassy in China.
On whether the quadripartite strategic alliance or the AUKUS nuclear and security agreement that Australia signed with the United Kingdom and the United States last year threatens to anger China, Jokowi said: “We don’t want our region to become a platform for competition.” [between] big countries.”
“We want this region to be peaceful so that we can build our country and achieve better economic growth. Rivalry, not to mention war, will not be beneficial to any country.”
Relations with Australia
In the wake of Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement, Indonesia said it was “extremely concerned” about the “continued arms race and power projection in the region”.
Coming under pressure over whether Indonesia’s relationship with Australia has soured as a result of AUKUS, Jokowi said: “Most importantly, we want Indonesia and Australia to have [a] A better relationship in the future, in investment, trade, etc., we want it to be better.”
He hoped that relations with Canberra would improve under the leadership of the new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.
“We both want our relationship to be better, closer and more realistic in investment and trade. Because we now have Indonesia and Australia CEPA, so this is our common goal, to be open so that goods from Australia can enter Indonesia, and goods from Indonesia can enter Australia,” the president said.
“I think it’s a very good relationship.”
– CNBC’s Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.