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Modi in Jakarta: Will the common concerns in the South China sea be ironed out

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a five-day visit on Tuesday to Indonesia and Singapore, two of India's strategically key partners in the region, with an aim to deepen defence ties, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

PM Narendra Modi arrives at Merdeka Palace, welcomed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo

The focus would be on the pact that both nations would ink on defence cooperation. This would be similar to the one inked several years back which had expired. All eyes would also be on the maritime cooperation between the two countries.The US, Australia and several other leading powers have been favouring a greater role by India in the Indo-Pacific region where China has been flexing its military might. Indonesia is in fact India's closest maritime neighbour and there would be discussions on ways to deepen maritime cooperation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

Both countries are close maritime neighbours - the shortest distance between Andaman and Aceh is just 80 nautical miles. This has implications on maritime security, counter-terrorism and anti-piracy operations.

Indonesia is the largest trading partner of India in the ASEAN region with bilateral trade of $17 billion in 2016-17. India is also a major source of military hardware for Indonesia.

China's stance in South China Sea is of common concern. Indonesia has common claims with China on some islands and India is worried about security of sea lanes of communication in the region.

Both are fast-growing large economies looking for global investors. Indonesia has its version of Make in India and has invited Indian companies to invest.

There are about 1 lakh Indonesians of Indian origin and over 7,500 Indian nationals in Indonesia.

In Indonesia, Modi will hold detailed discussions with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta. He will also interact with Chief Executive Officers and the Indian community in Indonesia. He will address the Indian gathering in Jakarta. The event is reportedly schedule to take place at 4 pm local time. Almost 3000 registrations have come up for this event as of now, that is, when the copy was written.

It will be followed by a brief stopover at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur, where Prime Minister will congratulate the newly elected Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohammad.

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