SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES N. MATTIS: Madame Minister — Minister Retno, it’s very good to have you here. Excellency, Ambassador, thank you for coming over, as well. I very much enjoyed my visit to your country, to your capital in January. It was very educational for me. I learned a great deal.
I believe our two nations have an opportunity, perhaps even a once-in-a-generation opportunity for cooperation on shared economic, diplomatic and security concerns. I think it’s important for our nations to work together and to share responsibility for regional security in a critical crossroads of global trade.
Indonesia is a geographic and diplomatic fulcrum for the Indo-Pacific region, with the ability to build consensus, within the ASEAN, a very important factor as we seek to expand counterterrorism, to bolster maritime cooperation and to promote collective security.
We also appreciate Indonesia’s support for reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. We welcome your initiative to host a trilateral meeting of Afghan, Pakistani and Indonesian religious leaders. In light of your nation’s multiethnic society, your voice in denouncing theological violence, and your endorsement of the peace process shows the path to a lasting peace in Afghanistan, a country which has suffered far too long from war.
We welcome greater Indonesia leadership and training and interoperability with your neighbors. We believe it is a stabilizing factor, what you are doing. Your trilateral cooperation agreement with Malaysia and the Philippines serves as a good model from the North Natuna Sea, to the Sulu Sea and beyond. We greatly value our military relationship with Indonesia, a like-minded partner with shared democratic values and interests; specifically, that Indonesians are supported in their interest and respect for international law, for territorial integrity in the South China Sea, and for your sovereignty.
So I look forward to hearing more of your ideas for the region here today. And Minister Retno, you and your delegation are most welcome here, as are your ideas.
But thank you again, Madame Minister, Ambassador, members of the delegation. It’s good to have you here. And if the members of the press will now excuse us, we’ll get to work.