Indonesia hopes ties with the United States will strengthen further in 2006 on the back of Washington's decision to resume military ties with the world's most populous Muslim nation, the foreign minister said Friday. Hassan Wirajuda was speaking ahead of a visit to Jakarta next week by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"There's were great developments during 2005.... leading to the removal of restrictions on military to military cooperation between Indonesia and the United States and it is in this perspective that we will meet," he said. "We look forward to some fruitful discussions ... that will lead to the strengthening of relations between Indonesia and the United States," Wirajuda told reporters in Jakarta.
The United States restored military ties with Indonesia in November, ending a six-year ban on military contacts with Jakarta. The ban was imposed because of human rights concerns.
U.S. officials said continuing to isolate Indonesia, which has been hit by several bombings by al-Qaida-linked terrorists in recent years, wasn't in Washington's strategic interests. Wiraujda said the agenda for the talks had yet to fixed, but that cooperation in the fight against terrorism would be one item likely to be discussed. Rice arrives in Jakarta on Sunday, and plans to meet with Wirajuda and Indonesia's president on Monday, reports the AP. I.L.