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Diplomacy

Germany's Westerwelle pledges to work for deeper ties with Jakarta

Germany’s foreign minister has pledged to push for a quick start to negotiations towards an EU trade deal with Indonesia. Guido Westerwelle’s Asian tour has also taken him to the Philippines and Singapore.

Speaking to reporters in Jakarta on Monday, Westerwelle said Germany was "serious" about establishing deeper ties with Jakarta and that a free trade deal between the European Union (EU) and Indonesia would bring "advantages for both sides."

Indonesia is "the biggest economy in Southeast Asia," Westerwelle told reporters in the capital. "It is a motor that drives global growth and is of course a central partner for us."

For his part, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa praised Germany for its efforts to resolve the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis.

"The European Union is too important for us for those problems not to concern us," he said. "Germany also has an important role to play here, for example as a country that consistently works for civilized dealings between nations, as well as for peace."

The two foreign ministers discussed the current crises in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. They also spoke about the possibility of Indonesia becoming the official partner country of the 2015 edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

However, they did not discuss the more controversial issue of a possible sale of German Leopard tanks to Indonesia.

"Currently technical discussions between the two parties involved are taking place," Netalegawa told reporters.

Westerwelle said the possible tank sale was "not part of our agenda."

Some German opposition parties have criticized the possible sale due to concerns about the state of human rights in Indonesia.

pfd/kms (AFP, dpa)