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Indonesia's active diplomacy and international role

Updated On: Feb 03, 2006

It is curious to see how Indonesiais trying to build up its international influence by offering its advice in contentious international matters.

Of late, it is using its influence as a board member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to mediate in the furore over uranium enrichment in Iran.

President Yudhoyono has called envoys from the USUKFranceGermanyChinaAustriaand Russiato go the "extra mile" to negotiate a peaceful solution. Briefing them on Indonesia's stance on nuclear energy, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda says “Indonesiaexpects these countries to forward our standpoint and consider our thoughts during the Feb. 2 meeting of the United Nation Security Council.”

Why Indonesiais so proactive is probably due to rising oil prices. Hassan stated, "Allowing the crisis to grow would have a negative economic effect for developing nations… Our involvement in seeking an amiable solution is not without sufficient grounds. If we are not doing anything we are afraid the crisis will evolve into something which could disturb our economy," he added.

Indonesiais confident Iranwill accept a proposal to use Russian uranium enrichment facilities as a compromise to break the nuclear standoff with the West. Moreover, the Iranian oil minister had offered assurances that the country would maintain its oil production. "From the discussion, we believe Iranhas in principle agreed to takeRussia's offer to use its uranium enrichment facilities. It's only a matter of technicalities now," Hassan said.

Another reason for Indonesia's action may be because it believes countries have the right to build nuclear plants for peaceful purposes. Indonesiahas set up two nuclear research reactors in Bandungand Yogjakarta. Going by the results of one study, the Indonesian government intends to operate small and medium-sized nuclear power reactors by around 2016. The latest project in Indonesia's ambitious nuclear plan is a feasibility study on establishing a nuclear desalination plant inKalimantan. Hence, Hassan shared the President of Iran's indignation that Iranshould be reported to the UN Security Council, which could result in economic sanctions.

In a related matter, Indonesiawill send a special envoy to Pyongyangand Seoulthis weekend to mediate differences on the Korean peninsula. A major obstacle to better relations between the two Koreasis the North's suspected development of nuclear weapons. The two sides, as well as the United StatesRussiaChinaandJapan, have been involved in sporadic talks aimed at solving that problem. Washingtonhas said it was ready to resume the talks as long as Pyongyangdoes not impose any conditions, while the latter has said resumption is unthinkable while the USimposes what amounts to economic sanctions against North Korea.

It is hoped that Indonesia's special links with communist North Koreacan help in the peaceful resolution of Korean reunification issues. Indonesiahad relatively close ties with North Koreain the 1950s and 1960s under former President Sukarno. These were maintained even after Sukarno's fall; while President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Indonesia's president from 2001 until late 2004, made special efforts to cultivate North Koreaand serve as a mediator.

Sources:

Indonesiato send envoy for Korean mediation newkerala.com/Reuters 1 February 2006

Indonesiaconcerned about Irannuclear crisis Bangkok Post, 1 February 2006

RI hopeful of quick end to Irannuclear standoff Jakarta Post, 2 February 2006

Energy's future is clear — it's nuclear Todayonline.com, 2 February 2006