Indonesia Accepting Foreign Aid in Combating Forest Fires: Joko

BY :JAKARTA GLOBE

OCTOBER 08, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia has finally accepted foreign assistance in its bid to combat forest and land fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, which for weeks have caused choking haze affecting hundreds of thousands of people, President Joko Widodo confirmed on Thursday.

At least three fire-fighting airplanes from Singapore and Russia are due to arrive in Indonesia on Thursda, Joko said.

“We need planes that have the capacity to carry 12 tons to 15 tons of water, unlike the aircraft that [Indonesia has], which have a water capacity of two to three tons. They are insufficient,” he said as quoted by Detik.com.

“Hopefully, with this additional assistance, we can speed up our efforts in managing the fires.

"We are dealing with peat land fires, which are different from ordinary forest fires," he added.

Malaysia and Japan have also offered their assistance, but it remains unclear whether Indonesia has accepted further aid.

Taking to his official Facebook on Wednesday evening, Singaporean Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said that recent discussions between his office and his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, had been productive, with Indonesia finally accepting Singapore's assistance.

"We reiterated our haze assistance package, which includes assets, personnel, high-resolution satellite pictures and hot spot coordinates," he said.

The Indonesian government previously turned down foreign assistance from other countries, particularly Singapore and Malaysia, which have also been affected by haze since the crisis began last month.

Indonesian Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung earlier said that Indonesia was worried foreign governments will take credit for clearing out the haze.

“The [Indonesian] government is not closing itself towards foreign assistance, but the government doesn't want others claiming success [for the joint effort], or say the extinguishing of the fires was due to their assistance," he said as quoted by Detik.con on Wednesday.

"The [Indonesian] government does not want others taking credit for all the hard work we had done."

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