Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has suggested sending a business mission to North Korea to explore the possibility of building up economic relations between the two countries.
Marty said Indonesia should follow up on the potential for business opportunities between the two countries, especially now that North Korea is planning to open a special economic zone in every province.
Marty said there was also the possibility of developing capacity-building partnerships between the two countries.
He said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had instructed him to engage in talks with his North Korean counterpart, Pak Ui-chun, and Kim Yong-nam, the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, to help create a climate conducive to business throughout the Korean Peninsula.
Last year during an official visit to North Korea, President Yudhoyono discussed the contentious topic of North Korea’s rocket launch during a meeting with the reclusive country’s second-most senior official, Kim Yong-nam.
But Indonesia’s efforts to forge closer ties with North Korea are concerning some activists, given the authoritarian state’s poor human rights record. Observers have also questioned whether the bond with North Korea will hurt relations with South Korea, one of Indonesia’s top investors.
During his meeting with Kim in Jakarta on Tuesday, Yudhoyono underlined the importance of dialogue and communication in helping eases tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Indonesia is one of few countries that maintain good relations with both Koreas. It has repeatedly sought to assist international efforts to establish peace on the Korean peninsula but has so far not been involved in formal discussions.
Human rights advocates also expressed concern that Indonesia had warmly welcomed a representative of a country with a poor human rights records, but others saw it as an opportunity to contribute toward democratic reforms in North Korea.