Bogor (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) emphasized the centrality and unity of ASEAN during the state visit of President of the Republic of the Philippines Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. at the Bogor Presidential Palace.

"We also discuss regional cooperation on how to strengthen ASEAN and the implementation of the 'ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific'. I emphasize the importance of strengthening ASEAN's centrality and unity," President Jokowi stated at a joint press conference in the lotus room, Bogor Presidential Palace, on Monday.

President Jokowi conveyed the statement after holding a bilateral meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. along with the Philippine delegation.

Earlier, the two heads of state also witnessed the exchange of a memorandum of understanding (Mou) between the two countries in the fields of diplomacy, defense, and the creative economy.

"Indonesia wants to ensure that ASEAN continues to be a locomotive for stability, peace, and prosperity in the region," the president remarked.

According to President Jokowi, the ASEAN should be able to overcome various challenges ahead and strengthen respect for the ASEAN Charter.

"In order to strengthen ASEAN's centrality, I underline the importance of implementing the 'ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific' through concrete and inclusive cooperation. In this context, Indonesia will hold the Indo-Pacific Infrastructure Forum next year," the president remarked.

President Jokowi also lauded the Philippines' commitment to fully supporting Indonesia's leadership in the ASEAN in 2023.

Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. said Indonesia was not only considered a neighboring or a friendly country but also as a relative.

"We spoke about the difficulties that each country is going through, especially after the pandemic and this is why trade is such an important thing we talk about today," President Marcos Jr. remarked.

President Marcos Jr. also thanked Indonesia for its assistance in infrastructure programs and how to play a role in the changing geopolitical conditions.

"President Jokowi and I agreed to form a task force up to the technical level and not only at the political or diplomatic level, so that the benefits can be maximized in future, and I am sure that the cooperation between Indonesia and the Philippines will continue to be closely intertwined to improve and to maintain peace and regional development," President Marcos Jr. stated.

The bilateral meeting was also attended by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno, Minister of State Secretariat Pratikno, Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Agus Widjojo, and the Director General of Asia-Pacific and Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abdul Kadir Jailani.

Bilateral relations between Indonesia and the Philippines were established on November 24, 1949. The total value of trade between the two countries in 2021 reached US$9.5 billion, with US$8.6 billion worth of exports and US$1.2 billion of imports. This means that Indonesia's trade balance is in surplus at the level of US$7.3 billion.

Meanwhile, based on data from the Philippine Immigration Bureau, as of July 2020, the number of Indonesian citizens living in the Philippines reached 4,408.

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Translator: Desca L, Azis Kurmala
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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