Jakarta. Indonesia and Malaysia on Monday (23/07) agreed to speed up negotiations on border issues and reaffirmed their mutual commitment to fight campaigns against palm oil in Europe.
"As close neighbors, we have no other choice but to further our cooperation. Indonesia is committed to continue improving bilateral relations," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters after a meeting with her Malaysian counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah, in Jakarta.
The neighbors agreed to fully authorize their joint technical team to resolve pending border issues and accelerate ongoing negotiations over their land border crossing agreement (BCA).
"We agreed that within the next two months we will conclude our negotiations on BCA. Once this is done, we can start to negotiate a border trade agreement," Retno said.
On maritime borders, Indonesia and Malaysia plan to formalize what they have so far agreed upon — several points along the Straits of Malacca and on the Celebes Sea, off the coast of Sulawesi.
The ministers also said their communication through informal channels will be increased.
As the world's top palm oil producers, accounting for around 85 percent of global output, Indonesia and Malaysia have repeatedly condemned campaigns against palm oil, which have been on the rise in the European Union. The two countries will join forces to address the issue.
"We will each play our roles as foreign ministers of our respective countries on this issue, which must also involve members of our cabinets, with a more structured and even closer cooperation," Abdullah said.
The issue was also raised during President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's meeting in Jakarta last moth.
"We face very similar issues, such as our palm oil exports. We have been threatened by Europe, and together we must fight back," Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said at that time.
Retno and Abdullah also discussed the issue of protection for Indonesian citizens in Malaysia, and the establishment of Indonesian schools for their children, especially in Sabah state.
"Malaysia is ready to facilitate the development of an Indonesian school in Sabah," Abdullah said.
This is Abdullah's first official visit, after he took office earlier this month.