BOGOR, Indonesia (AP) — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo, on Tuesday on a visit aimed at strengthening economic ties between the two Muslim-majority nations amid heightened global geopolitical tensions.
Widodo hosted Raisi at the colonial-style presidential palace in Bogor, just outside the capital, Jakarta. Raisi is visiting at Widodo’s invitation as Indonesia aims to speed up its post-pandemic economic recovery by increasing exports.
The two-day visit is expected to deepen Iran’s ties with Indonesia after the two nations concluded negotiations this month on a Preferential Trade Agreement. The two leaders witnessed the signing of that pact and 10 other agreements Tuesday.
At a joint news conference after meeting with Raisi, Widodo said they discussed expanding export opportunities in the Middle East and Iran and opportunities for Iranian businesses to invest in the development of Indonesia’s new capital on Borneo island.
Raisi said the countries hope to raise the value of their two-way trade to $20 billion.
Bilateral trade increased by more than 23% last year to $257.2 million, according to Indonesia’s Trade Ministry.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is seeking new markets for its exports to reduce its reliance on traditional trading partners, many of which have been affected by the weakened global economy and geopolitical risks. Iran is a nontraditional trade partner for Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
Raisi said his country has attained “remarkable development” in its economy, science and technology despite decades of U.S. government sanctions.
“The numerous documents that we signed today showed the will of the two countries to develop relations in all situations despite of threats and sanctions by the enemies,” Raisi said.
“We believe that sanctions and threats cannot stop us in any way,” Raisi said. “Cooperation and communication with neighboring countries, Muslim nations and countries that are aligned with us is our priority.”
The two leaders said they also discussed heightened geopolitical tensions in many parts of the world and agreed to continue their support for Palestinians and education for women and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.
In February, Raisi met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to seek further cooperation following a September meeting in Uzbekistan, when Xi underscored China’s support for Iran.
Both China and Iran have sought to project themselves alongside Russia as a counterweight to American power.
Washington has accused Iran of selling hundreds of attack drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine and has sanctioned executives of an Iranian drone manufacturer.
While in Indonesia, Raisi is scheduled to meet with House Speaker Puan Maharani, religious figures and businesspeople. He also will visit Jakarta’s Istiqlal Grand Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia, and give lectures at an Islamic university.
Widodo’s last trip to Iran was in 2016, while the last official state visit from Iran was in 2015, when then-President Hassan Rouhani attended the 50th commemoration of the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung city.
Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.
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