Norway-Indonesia Ties Get Royal Endorsement
Two years ago Norway pledged $1 billion to help protect Indonesia’s forests, and now the two countries have agreed to strengthen economic and political ties.
Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, the country’s heir apparent, visited President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday.
“We are very honored and happy for your visit, and I hope the visit will improve Indonesia-Norway bilateral relations,” Yudhoyono told Magnus during the meeting.
The men were accompanied by their wives, Ani Yudhoyono and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
“Indonesia has good and strong relations with Norway. The visit allows us to look for new opportunities to boost our relations,” Yudhoyono said before they continued with a closed meeting.
The royal couple will be in Indonesia until Friday. They are being accompanied by a large business delegation from sectors including oil and gas, shipping, marine exporters, renewable energy and fisheries in an attempt to boost trade and investment.
Trade between the two countries reached $309 million last year, and $239 million in the first semester of this year.
According to Norwegian embassy in Jakarta, the purpose of Magnus’ visit is to strengthen existing cooperation between the two countries, while boosting Norwegian competence in the energy, maritime, trade and investment sectors.
“This makes Indonesia an important cooperation partner for Norway,” an embassy official said.
According to Indonesian presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah, the two leaders discussed priority sectors for both countries, which include environmental, energy, trade and investment sectors. They also talked about regional and global issues that are both of their concerns.
The Scandinavian country pledged a $1 billion assistance package to help protect Indonesian forests in 2010, on the condition that there is a verifiable reduction in deforestation.
Magnus also held a meeting with Association of Southeast Asian Nations secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan, and officiated a business forum discussing the theme “Indonesia-Norway: Strategic Partnership in Business.”
In his welcoming remarks to the royal couple, Surin said Norway’s interest in the region “will pay off, as the country’s areas of expertise are a good fit for many Asean countries.”
The Crown Prince will next fly to Yogyakarta to meet Sultan Hamengkubowo X and deliver a lecture at Gadjah Mada University called “Nurturing Tolerance and the Need for Dialogue.”