Tuesday July 10, 2012
Merkel arrives for first official Indonesia visit
JAKARTA: German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Indonesia Tuesday for her first official visit to Southeast Asia's largest economy for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and business leaders.
Merkel, who took office in 2005, will also meet rights activists and the chief justice of the constitutional court in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
She is due to visit the site of the country's tsunami early-warning system, which was built with German assistance, as well as a Protestant church and a mosque.
German government sources have described Indonesia as a comparably stable developing country with robust prospects, but expressed concerns about frequent human rights violations in the resources-rich province of West Papua.
During the trip Merkel also aims to take up issues of regional security such as the fight against piracy in the Strait of Malacca linking the Indian Ocean with the Pacific, German officials said ahead of the visit.
Indonesia said earlier this month it would turn to Germany for a tank deal, after a $280 million bid to buy 100 Leopard battle tanks from the Netherlands fell through.
But a senior Merkel aide said before her departure from Germany that "talks on arms deals are not on the agenda", adding that no specific trade pacts or business contracts were expected to be signed.
The aide said there were no plans for her to hold talks with visiting International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who is in Jakarta at the same time as the German leader.
Bilateral trade relations have developed briskly in recent years with Germany exporting 3.4 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in goods and services to Indonesia in 2011.
Imports from the country were valued at 3.3 billion euros. - AFP