Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, right, holds a bilateral meeting with his United States counterpart Defense Secretary Mark Thomas Esper in Bangkok on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Indonesian Defense Ministry)

US-Banned Defense Minister Prabowo Holds Bilateral Meeting With US Counterpart in Bangkok

BY :TELLY NATHALIA

NOVEMBER 17, 2019

Jakarta.  Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has met United States Defense Secretary Mark Thomas Esper in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday, on the sidelines of the 6th Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, Ministers Meeting.

The US has banned Prabowo from entering the country since 2000 over alleged human rights abuses. No information that the US has lifted the ban.

The two defense ministers discussed future cooperation between the two countries, especially under the Indo-Pacific Concept that Asean launched early this year, an official said in a statement on Sunday.

“In the new defense strategy, the United States of America places Indo-Pacific region, where Indonesia is one of the main players, as a factor that needs attention,” Maj. Gen. Rizerius Eko, the director general of defense strategy at Indonesian Defense Ministry, said as quoted in the statement.

Rizerius accompanied Prabowo in the meeting with Esper in Bangkok, where Asean ministers also met their counterparts from the Southeast Asia region and friendly countries like the US. 

Esper conveyed a plan to visit Indonesia soon to strengthen defense cooperation between the two countries, Rizerius said. But, the secretary has yet to set a schedule, he said. 

Prabowo, who joined commando training at Fort Bening during his military career in the '80s, told Esper of the importance of strengthening cooperation in defense education and training, according to Rizerius.

Indonesia expected to be able to send its cadets from Army, Navy, and Air Forces military academies to join military training in the US.

Responding to it, Esper said that the US was open and ready to accept Indonesian cadets to study there, Rizerius said.

The two ministers also discussed several cooperations that will be conducted soon, such as the restart of join training between special military forces and United Nations peacekeepers.

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