Indonesia hosts regional defence chiefs amid multiple global crises, Malaysia’s defence minister calls for Gaza ceasefire

Indonesia hosts regional defence chiefs amid multiple global crises, Malaysia’s defence minister calls for Gaza ceasefire
Indonesia hosts regional defence chiefs amid multiple global crises, Malaysia’s defence minister calls for Gaza ceasefire

Hello and welcome to the details of Indonesia hosts regional defence chiefs amid multiple global crises, Malaysia’s defence minister calls for Gaza ceasefire and now with the details

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Malaysia's Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan arrives to attend the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 15, 2023. — Reuters pic

JAKARTA, Nov 15 — Defence ministers in Asean called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a durable solution to the crisis in Myanmar during the opening of a regional meeting in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Defence ministers from the Asian bloc are attending the two-day meeting alongside key players in the Indo-Pacific as major powers jostle for regional influence, and as conflicts deepen from Myanmar to the Middle East.

Opening the annual get-together, Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto said the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation was deeply saddened by the deteriorating conditions in Gaza, particularly the “horrid” humanitarian situation.

“Indonesia’s stance is clear and firm. We push and call for immediate cessation of hostilities and the immediate setting up of corridors for humanitarian assistance,” he said in his opening remarks.

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Visiting Washington this week, Indonesian President Joko Widodo pressed US President Joe Biden to do more to end Israel’s war with Hamas.

Malaysian Defence Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan reiterated the calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, saying that Malaysia “condemns terrorism in all forms”, including taking people as hostages and the bombing of civilian homes.

As chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) this year, Prabowo also urged his counterparts to push for concrete progress toward a peaceful solution in Myanmar, which has been riven by chaos and violence since a 2021 coup.

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The annual meeting comes as conflict rages in the Middle East and Ukraine and as tensions ratchet up in disputed waters in the South China Sea, where China is accused of aggression against the Philippines, which has US backing and seeks to boost its military ties with Japan.

All Asean defence ministers, with the exception of Myanmar’s, attended Wednesday’s forum, with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet counterparts later in the day.

The talks will expand on Thursday to include Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia.

Asean, a region of about 660 million people with a combined gross domestic product of more than US$3.2 trillion, has for years been courted by Washington and Beijing, but their fierce rivalry has caused its members concern.

“Competition is good. But competition should not deteriorate into a zero-sum game,” Indonesia’s defence minister and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto told a foreign policy forum this week, where he stressed the importance of non-alignment.

Air Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng, deputy chief of staff of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission, will represent China. The country removed its defence minister in October, raising questions about the stability of the leadership around President Xi Jinping.

Austin comes to Indonesia from South Korea, where he reiterated concerns about Russia and China helping North Korea to evade sanctions and Moscow’s closer military ties with Pyongyang.

Aaron Connelly, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, said conflict in Gaza and Ukraine and China’s moves to block Philippine resupply missions at a disputed reef will most likely feature at the meeting.

“This forum is not one where major geopolitical developments are really addressed or moved forward in any significant way. But we do expect discussions from the US and Philippines on topics like the Second Thomas Shoal, Israel-Hamas, Ukraine,” Connelly said. — Reuters

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