Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and his Malaysian counterpart Da'to Seri Utama Haji Mohamad bin Haji Hasan have expressed their commitment to completely resolving the border dispute between the two nations, including in the Ambalat Block.

"In essence, with the commitment of our head of government, we want to solve all the problems that we have with a family approach, a friendly approach as neighbors that will solve all problems as well as possible. Almost all problems are almost resolved. I think so," Subianto said after the 43rd Malaysia-Indonesia General Border Committee (GBC Malindo) meeting in Jakarta on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Hasan said that the relations between Indonesia and Malaysia are based on a spirit of brotherhood and friendship, so he is optimistic that negotiations regarding the border dispute can hopefully be completed soon.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim also conveyed their commitment to resolving the border problem when the two met in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on June 8, 2023.

Widodo and Ibrahim said Indonesia and Malaysia had negotiated on their state boundaries in the southern Malacca Strait and the Sulawesi Sea; meanwhile, for the land borders in Sebatik and Sinapad, both expressed the hope that the negotiations would be completed soon.

However, the agreement at the meeting in Putrajaya did not cover the issue of maritime boundaries in the Ambalat Block.

The Ambalat Block is a sea block covering an area of 15,235 square kilometers. It is located in the Sulawesi Sea or Makassar Strait and borders Malaysian waters.

Based on reports from Malaysian media, including the Malaysian News Agency Bernama, Malaysian officials said the maritime boundary agreement between Indonesia and Malaysia in the Sulawesi Sea does not include the Ambalat Block, which Malaysia refers to as Blocks ND6 and ND7.

In August 2023, Malaysian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Muhammad Alamin emphasized that Indonesia and Malaysia had not yet negotiated their maritime boundaries in Ambalat, especially regarding the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf of the two countries.

Indonesia and Malaysia still claim full sovereignty over the two waters.

The border issue in Ambalat arose because of the overlapping territorial waters of the EEZ and the continental shelf between the two countries, whose measurement refers to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Under the 1982 UNCLOS, each country has full sovereignty over waters as far as 200 nautical miles from its EEZ coastal baseline along with its seabed (continental shelf), which is more than 200 nautical miles away.

However, Indonesia and Malaysia share territorial waters that are close to each other, so there is an overlapping of their EEZ and continental shelf.

The dispute between the two countries in the Ambalat Block heated up in 1979 when Malaysia violated the Continental Shelf Boundary agreement of October 27, 1969. Under that agreement, the two countries had agreed that the Ambalat Block was a part of Indonesian territory.

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Translator: Genta Tenri Mawangi, Cindy Frishanti Octavia
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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