Admiral Marsetio, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Governors, the Captain and crew of the Rodney M. Davis, distinguished guests.
This is a big night for U.S. – Indonesian naval cooperation as we celebrate two major milestones: the visit of our Secretary and our first ship visit in 5 years. So welcome to all of you!
I also want to extend a warm welcome to my good friend Admiral Marsetio who has been a very strong partner in building our navy to navy ties during his important term of service.
To Admiral Marsetio and all the other Indonesians who are here this evening, let me first congratulate you on the inauguration of your new president. The successful transition from one directly elected president to another is one more testament to Indonesia’s strength as a democracy.
I was very pleased that Secretary of State John Kerry was able to lead a Presidential delegation to attend President Jokowi’s inauguration and demonstrate our high level support for the President and your country.
Indonesia is a country that is playing an increasingly important role in the world from helping to promote democracy through the Bali Democracy Forum, to increasing the number of its peacekeeping troops around the world, to exercising influence as the second fastest growing economy in the G-20 over the last five years.
As Indonesia’s global role has grown, so too has the Comprehensive Partnership established by President Obama and then President Yudhoyono in 2010.
Our cooperation spans a huge range of areas, from expanding trade and investment ties, to partnering in the development of not just Indonesia but the world, to increased exchange and cooperation in education and scientific research, to working together to mitigate global challenges such as deforestation and climate change, to increased coordination in security matters.
I am pleased the U.S.-Indonesia military-to-military relationship has grown steadily as well. We have a strong shared interest in regional security and stability. Our militaries are working together to build bilateral and regional capacity to respond to common security threats, such as piracy. We are also boosting cooperation on issues such as humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, maritime security, and international peacekeeping. Active bilateral exercise and training programs support these objectives.
The visit of the Rodney M. Davis likewise has been a success. This vessel just concluded joint training with the Indonesian Navy to enhance our maritime security objectives.
These take on greater importance now that President Jokowi is according a high priority to developing Indonesia’s maritime axis. Maritime security and maritime domain awareness will help lay the basis for expanded maritime trade, sustainable fisheries and combatting illegal fishing. The United States already is helping in these areas and stands ready to do more if President Jokowi and his new team request.
Here in Sumatra I understand that Sumatra is planning to build new ports to supplement Belawan. Such ports can provide new economic momentum, as the new ports are deep-water ports that can handle more advanced cargo ships and thereby help reduce the costs of shipping goods both within Indonesia and abroad.
While this ship is a U.S. Navy ship, and the communication and maneuvering exercises that the U.S. and Indonesian Navies conduct clearly have a security dimension, the ship’s visit helps advance our friendship with Indonesia in other important ways.
Yesterday, this ship’s crew visited four local schools to share their stories and learn from students. They also worked with the city of Medan and a local environment group – Medan Green, to clean up and beautify a park. In these events, about one hundred young people from America had the opportunity to interact with, learn from, and also share their stories with citizens of North Sumatra.
These activities and this reception tonight are helping our two countries to build ties and increase mutual understanding. Though increased communication and understanding we will be even better suited to draw on our strengths to help one another.
This ship visit is the first here in several years, but will not be the last. As you have heard, our cooperation will continue and we hope additional ship visits will occur here in Sumatra at various other ports.
So you can count on the United States to continue to be a strong partner for Indonesia’s future.