No target in Indonesia-Africa dialog except promoting Batam, says official

Batam, Riau (Antara News) - The Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry has set no target in the Indonesian-African Partnership Dialogue (IAPD), except making the event an opportunity to introduce Batam in Riau province, an Indonesian official has said.

From the IAPD, African ambassadors in Jakarta and other countries (non-resident ambassadors) are expected to obtain information on the many trading opportunities in Batam in particular, and in Indonesia in general, the Foreign Affairs Ministry`s Director for Africa, Bali Moniaga, said here Sunday evening in the IAPD scheduled to take place in Batam on Monday and Tuesday (Nov 6-7).

As it is only in the early stage in an effort to enhance the trade relations, the IAPD cannot be compared to the recent China-Africa summit meeting in which 16 trade agreements worth US$1.9 billion were signed, Moniaga said.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda cancelled schedule to officially open the IAPD because he must attend a cabinet meeting in Jakarta on Monday, Moniaga said, adding that on the occasion, the minister would be represented by Director General for Asia,Pacific and the African Regions, Primo Alui Joelianto.

Indonesia`s Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu who was scheduled to attend the IAPD, was also reported to be absent in the two-day event.

Until Sunday night, 20 resident and non-resident ambassadors as well as honorary consuls have arrived in Batam. The ambassadors include Griffiths Mandelkosi Memela (South Africa), Fransisco Jaime Mulime (Mozambique), Muhammed Buba Ahmed (Nigeria) and Gabriel Alexander Sar (Senegal).

Moniaga, who will become Indonesian ambassador to Brazil as of mid-November 2006, said the IAPD was the implementation of the declaration on the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership and the Asia-Africa Summit Conference in Jakarta in April 2005, which was jointly chaired by Indonesia and South Africa.

He also said that the 53 African countries supported the Unitary State of Indonesia and encouraged the country to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The African countries are historically close to Indonesia especially in the spirit of the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, West Java, in 1955.

Due to the close relations both historically and politically, it was considered important to enhance bilateral ties between Indonesia and the African countries including in trade cooperation, he said.

In the IAPD, the ambassadors play a role as sales agents providing information on business opportunities in their respective countries, he added.

He pointed out that the situation in most of the African countries was different from that 20 years ago when many conflicts were widespread.

"Africa where conflicts have abated, now gives opportunities to step up trade relations," he said. (*)
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