|In this photo released by the Indonesian Presidential Palace, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, second left, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, second right, Suga's wife Mariko, left, and Widodo's wife Iriana wave during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Bogor West Java, Indonesia, on Oct 20, 2020. (Photo by=Laily Rachev/Indonesian Presidential Palace via AP)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday promised low-interest loans of 50 billion yen ($473 million) to Indonesia to aid with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic in talks with the Southeast Asian nation's President Joko Widodo.
In the summit at the presidential palace in Bogor, south of Jakarta, the leaders also agreed to strengthen security cooperation and begin discussions on resuming business travel between their countries. Suga, on his first overseas trip since taking office in mid-September, is looking to foster closer ties with Southeast Asian countries to counter China's growing influence. "We will promote further cooperation with Indonesia, which is a maritime state in the Indo-Pacific and a strategic partner, including in defeating the coronavirus together," Suga said after the meeting with Joko.
The low-interest loans will be used for Indonesia's measures against natural disasters, in addition to the nearly 32 billion yen in loans Japan gave in February this year. Suga said he agreed with Joko to resume travel between their countries for nurses and care worker trainees. Joko said the foreign ministers of the two countries will coordinate to resume wider-scale business travel over the next month.