Indonesia Calls For Reduction in Nuclear Arms Race

Beijing (ANTARA News) - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on all countries to reduce the arms race, including that for nuclear weapons, and to use the funds and energy on improving the welfare of the people instead.

"Creating mutual confidence among countries in the region could help reduce the desire for an arms race," he said in his speech after receiving an honorary degree from the Chinese Tsinghua University here on Friday (March 23).

President Yudhoyono is in China until March 25 for a working and state visit to increase cooperation between the two countries before he is due to leave for South Korea to attend a nuclear summit and will return home on March 29.

He suggested regional welfare would be achieved if all parties could free themselves from the fear of humanitarian disasters caused by, among other things, nuclear weapons. By not being trapped into an arms race, countries around the world could allocate their money and energy to purposes that are more useful to their citizens` welfare.

He noted that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had already arrived at a common ground on the need for countries that own nuclear weapons to participate in the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Protocol (SEANWFZ).

"Indonesia will continue to push for the countries that possess nuclear weapons to sign the protocol this year," stated President Yudhoyono. (*)