Natuna, Riau Islands Province (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and entourage undertook a working visit to Natuna, Riau Islands, Wednesday, amid diplomatic tension after Chinese fishing boats, guarded by Chinese coast guard ships, were found poaching in Indonesia’s EEZ waters.

The Presidential aircraft took off from the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in Jakarta at around 7:30 a.m. local time and landed at the Raden Sadjad Airport, Natuna, at 9:10 a.m. local time.

Members of the presidential entourage comprised Chief of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, Chief of the Presidential Staff Office General (Ret.) Moeldoko, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arifin Tasrif, Deputy Agrarian and Land Spatial Minister Surya Chandra, and Presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rahman.

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Natuna Sea, nearly 200 nautical miles offshore to the north, is within Indonesia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) recognized internationally by the UNCLOS 1982 and is promulgated through Law No. 5 of 1983 on Indonesia's EEZ.

Over the course of the past few days, Chinese fishing vessels have been trespassing into Indonesia's EEZ in the Natuna waters. The fishing vessels were escorted by the Chinese Coast Guard in the waters some 130 miles off Ranai waters, Natuna.

The Indonesian Navy has deployed eight warships to patrol and secure the waters.

President Jokowi had earlier commended the statement of all his aides on the issue that showcased Indonesia's steadfastness in defending its sovereignty.

In dealing with this issue, the Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry has been closely coordinating with the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs.

The ministry made all-out efforts to fulfil whatever assignments are mandated to it in securing the Indonesian waters from foreign vessels fishing illegally, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo emphasized.

Regarding the recent violations by Chinese coast guard vessels in the Indonesian EEZ near the Natuna waters, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry had also protested by summoning China's ambassador in Jakarta.

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Translator: Agus Salim, Fardah
Editor: Sri Haryati
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