U.S. Army Chief of Staff James McConville met with Indonesia’s top defense official on Friday to push for stronger security ties amid growing Chinese maritime activity in the Indo-Pacific region.
McConville said he and Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto have discussed ways to deepen cooperation, including enhanced military exercises between the countries.
“We have many friends in the region and we work closely together. We all share the same interests for the region: peace, security, stability,” McConville said. “That’s why we work together to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific for all.”
US SAYS NEW INDONESIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IS NOT INVOLVED IN PAST RIGHTS ABUSES
Subianto said that the promotion and maintenance of peace and stability in the region “is our common concern”, but stressed Indonesia’s neutral stance, stating that it wants to maintain relations with all nations, “especially with all major powers”.
McConville arrived in Jakarta late Thursday evening from the Philippines, which is locked in an ongoing dispute with China over territory in the South China Sea. His visit followed last month’s US-Philippines joint war exercises that antagonized Beijing.
On Thursday, leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met in Indonesia for a summit where territorial disputes in the South China Sea were high on the agenda. China claims virtually all of the sea, also claimed in part by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
BIDEN ANNOUNCES $20 BILLION TO KEEP INDONESIA AWAY FROM COAL
The South China Sea is home to vital shipping lanes, abundant fish stocks, and underwater mineral resources. China and ASEAN have made little progress in developing a code of conduct to avoid conflict in the area.
ASEAN leaders renewed a call for self-restraint in disputes to avoid miscalculations and confrontations, repeating the language used in previous ASEAN statements.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
While China’s influence and military strength in the region is growing rapidly, the United States remains the dominant military power. Washington has a security alliance with the Philippines and strong relationships with many other ASEAN members.