FM Retno Seeks to Strengthen Economic Ties, Spread Islamic 'Counternarrative' on First Visit to US

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi before their meeting at the State Department in Washington D.C. on Thursday (04/05). (Reuters Photo/Yuri Gripas)

By : Sheany | on 1:18 PM May 05, 2017
Category : News, Featured, Foreign Affairs

Jakarta. On her first state visit to the United States on May 4-5, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will seek to strengthen economic ties with the world's predominant superpower and promote Indonesia's moderate practice of Islam to skeptical US audiences.

During her trip to Washington D.C., Retno will meet with a number of high-ranking US officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan.

According to a statement released by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday (05/05), Retno said a counternarrative to promote the peaceful virtues of Islam to the US public and lawmakers is necessary to combat an increasing prejudice against Muslims in the United States and Europe.

"It’s very important that there’s a global effort to spread a counternarrative to deliver the message that Islam is a religion of grace and prosperity, and that terrorism is not related to any specific religion, including Islam," Retno said.

"Not only is it wrong to link religion with terrorism, it can create new problems."

The minister also addressed the need to combat radicalism and terrorism through using both hard and soft power techniques simultaneously.

Retno also met with US lawmakers in a bid to strengthen economic ties between both countries. In her meeting with House Speaker Ryan, the minister expressed Indonesia’s interest to increase mutually beneficial trade and investment partnerships.

"The economies of both countries complement each other, so there’s a lot of potential to continue developing cooperation in this respect."

US-Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

At the US-Asean Foreign Minister's Meeting in Washington on Thursday, delegates from both blocs discussed boosting bilateral economic ties and brainstormed solutions to diminish rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea.

According to a statement released by the Asean secretariat, the foreign ministers urged North Korea "to fully comply with its obligations arising from all relevant UN Security Council resolutions and international laws."

In response to China's prolonged campaign of island-building in the South China Sea, US and Asean representatives agreed to work towards a peaceful resolution to lower tensions in the region.

"[...] and we call for the early agreement on the framework and expeditious conclusion of a code of conduct in the South China Sea," the statement said.

US President Donald Trump also said he plans to attend the upcoming Asean-US Summit, East Asia Summit and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Vietnam in November.

The year 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of formal US-Asean relations.



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