Joint press conference, East Asia Summit, Kuala Lumpur
FOREIGN MINISTER RETNO MARSUDI: We just had a very productive meeting with the Foreign Minister of Australia, Julie Bishop. One thing that we'd like to share with you is that both of us agreed to move together in strengthening the bilateral relationship. We discussed how to proceed in the future, we discussed the need to strengthen business to business, and we also discussed people to people contact through the Australian-Indonesian Dialogue. We also discussed some terms of strengthening government to government meetings. I was informed there is a plan for the Australian Government to send a delegation to Indonesia, including a trade and investment delegation. And, of course, my colleague Julie Bishop also informed me officially that Australia plans to open a Consulate General in Makassar.
FOREIGN MINISTER JULIE BISHOP: Thank you Retno. Colleagues I'm delighted to have this opportunity to meet with my good friend and Foreign Minister counterpart Retno Marsudi. We've had a very productive and constructive discussion today. We met earlier in the day at a number of other meetings but this was an opportunity for the two of us to discuss the way forward in strengthening and broadening and deepening the Australia-Indonesia relationship. At a government level we will be meeting formally again before the end of the year at what's called a 2+2 meeting, the Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers of our respective countries will be meeting to discuss particular security, defence and foreign policy matters of interest to us both. My colleague the Trade Minister Andrew Robb will be leading a business delegation to Indonesia before the end of the year to focus on ways of enhancing bilateral trade and investment. We see so many opportunities for our two economies to complement each other and many opportunities for Indonesian businesses, Australian businesses to work together. We also discussed opportunities that our respective Leaders will have to meet in coming months.
I have said in the past, and I repeat it now, Australia and Indonesia work so closely across such a broad and very diverse range of areas. In fact we calculated that about 20 Australian Government agencies and departments are working with an equivalent number of Indonesian departments and agencies across about 60 different areas of cooperation – through dialogues and treaties and other partnerships, and we committed to strengthen even further that level of cooperation.
We are delighted to also confirm that the New Colombo Plan, the Australian Government's overseas student initiative, is very popular in Indonesia – in fact wildly popular. It is one of the most sought after destinations for young Australian undergraduates seeking to study overseas under the New Colombo Plan. And we're delighted that about 1000 students were there last year, and about an equivalent number there this year. I'm sure that through this investment in the future of our young people, gaining a greater understanding of Indonesia, it will do much to continue to build our relations over the long term.
So with the opening of the Consul General in Makassar, with the New Colombo Plan, with our cooperation in the areas of security, intelligence, defence and law enforcement this relationship will go from strength to strength. Ibu Retno, may I personally thank you for your friendship since we have both taken on these roles, and your willingness to be available to me and answering my text messages at any time of the day or night, so thank you very much.
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