Efforts to release Indonesian hostages should be conducted carefully: Minister

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The efforts to secure the release of 10 Indonesian citizens abducted by an armed group in the Philippines should be conducted carefully, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi.

"Taking into account the on-field situation until last night, a careful approach was necessary," Marsudi stated at the State Palace here on Wednesday.

The safety of Indonesians has been a top priority in any attempt to free the hostages.

The minister had reported the current situation regarding the hostages to President Joko Widodo.

"We continue to communicate with the families of the hostages. We assure the families on the governments commitment to ensure the release of the hostages. Due to on-field difficulties, the government has yet to secure the release of the hostages soon," the minister pointed out.

Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu had earlier stated that seven Indonesian sailors were being held on Panamao Jolo Island, Southern Philippines, while three others are in Lapac Island, some 64 kilometers away.

The hostages were crew members of vessels transporting coal from Indonesia to the Philippines.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto urged the Indonesian people to give him time to settle the problem.

"Let me work optimally to handle the case," the minister emphasized.

Meanwhile, President Joko Widodo and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe discussed counterterrorism cooperation during a bilateral meeting.

"With regard to countering radicalism, extremism, and terrorism, Indonesia is always in the forefront," Foreign Affairs Minister Marsudi stated after attending the bilateral meeting between Indonesia and Sri Lanka here on Wednesday.

Marsudi said Sri Lanka assessed that Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, had succeeded in spreading the message of tolerance and promoting moderate Islam among its people.

Prime Minister Ranil hopes Sri Lanka and Indonesia will strengthen cooperation in the fields of extremism, terrorism, and counterradicalism.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumardi, and Secretary of State Pratikno accompanied Widodo during the bilateral meeting.(*)