NEW DELHI — Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony and his Indonesia counterpart, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, met Oct. 16 to discuss joint training, and possible co-production and sales of military equipment.
Antony called the Jakarta talks a “turning point” and an “excellent beginning.”
Indian Defence Ministry sources said that in addition to agreeing on cooperation in joint training and military exchanges, the two countries will develop a roadmap on coproduction of defense equipment and weapons. The sale of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile to Indonesia was also discussed, a source said.
The two countries have also talked about joint patrols of Indian and Indonesian warships in the Strait of Malacca, a vital waterway for sea traffic, including petroleum shipments from the Arabian Gulf.
“The two sides exchanged views on a whole range of issues relating to regional and global security, bilateral exercises … training, coproduction of defence equipment and ammunitions, and visits at high level,” said an Indian Defence Ministry release.
India’s engagement with regional countries is part of its “Look East” policy as it watches China expand its influence in the Indian Ocean. China has a military base on leased Myanmar land in the Coco Islands, where it can monitor the Indian Navy and ballistic missile testing.
Indonesia is the closest country to India’s Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean, where India has set up its tri-command to observe Chinese activities. Indonesia’s Sumatra province is just 80 nautical miles from the Nicobar Islands.
‘We have a vital stake in the evolution of balanced security and cooperation mechanisms, through which we can build consensus and pursue dialogue,” Antony said. “We seek to improve our partnership with all countries in the Indian Ocean region on a bilateral basis.”