French defence minister praises ‘strategic intimacy’ with Indonesia
France’s defence minister met his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta on Friday, lauding the close ties between the two countries following an $8 billion fighter jet deal signed earlier this year.
“There is a powerful strategic intimacy that is being born with Indonesia and France,” French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu told AFP.
Indonesia placed an order for 42 of France’s Rafale fighter jets in an $8.1 billion deal agreed to in February.
The two countries are also in talks over the purchase of two French Scorpene-class attack submarines.
Lecornu met his counterpart Prabowo Subianto as Indonesia prepares to take over the rotating presidency of regional block the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
France has been accepted as an observer state in ADMM-Plus, ASEAN’s defence platform, Lecornu tweeted Saturday, joining countries including the United States and China.
“This is recognition of our investment in regional security and stability,” Lecornu said in the tweet.
France wants to further strengthen ties in Southeast Asia “to be in a position to fight against escalation, to rearm and to be in a situation to have credible diplomacy,” Lecornu told AFP.
He added that France also needed to remain engaged “politically” in the area, stressing that Paris wanted to play a multilateral role in the region.
France reacted with fury last year when Australia, Britain and the United States revealed the AUKUS pact, which saw Washington supply Australia with nuclear-powered subs, ditching a French contract.