Pence announces $10 bn in deals on Indonesia trip

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a business forum in Jakarta, Indonesia. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 April 2017
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Pence announces $10 bn in deals on Indonesia trip

JAKARTA: US Vice President Mike Pence announced $10 billion in deals between American and Indonesian companies during a visit to Jakarta Friday, as he pushed for greater access to Southeast Asia’s top economy.
Eleven deals were signed. Energy firm Exxon Mobil, General Electric, and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin were among the American companies involved in the agreements.
“These deals represent the tremendous excitement that American companies feel about opportunities in Indonesia,” said Pence.
Exxon Mobil will sell liquefied natural gas to Indonesian state-owned energy company Pertamina, General Electric will provide technology for Indonesian power plants, while Lockheed Martin will provide new weapons systems for F-16 fighter jets.
During the visit to Indonesia, his latest stop on an Asia tour, Pence has been pushing to help US firms who want to do business in Indonesia — one of several countries targeted by Donald Trump’s administration for running a trade surplus with the US.
During a meeting at a Jakarta hotel Friday where the deals were announced, Pence told business leaders that he and President Joko Widodo had “very candidly and very respectfully” discussed how to improve market access for US firms in Indonesia when they held talks.
He said earlier on the visit that Washington wanted to “break down barriers” for exporters seeking to enter the Indonesian market.
Indonesia has long been targeted by foreign investors, as it has enjoyed robust growth in recent years, driven by exports of its key commodities even as many developed countries have struggled.
The country of 255 million people is home to a rapidly growing middle class and an army of consumers whose spending power is increasing.
But Indonesia can be a notoriously difficult place to do business due to nationalistic policies, complex bureaucracy and problems with corruption, and foreign firms have often run into trouble.
The latest example of a US company facing problems is a row between the government and mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, which runs a huge gold and copper mine in Indonesia, after authorities demanded they obtain a new license to operate.
Pence departed Indonesia Friday for the next stop on his tour, Australia. He has already visited South Korea and Japan on a trip that is aimed at smoothing some of the rougher edges of Trump’s rhetoric.


Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

Updated 23 October 2018
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Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

  • Man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial
  • Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: A man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial Tuesday in a process closed to the public.
Tajikistan’s Supreme Court spokesperson told AFP Tuesday the trial for the “brutal murder of four foreign cyclists” had begun in the suspect’s high-security detention center.
Hussein Abdusamadov, 33, already confessed to killing American cycling tourists Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin, Dutch citizen Rene Wokke and Swiss citizen Markus Hummel in July.
The victims were struck by a car as they cycled along the remote Pamir Highway, a popular route among adventure tourists, before being set upon with knives and firearms.
Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt.
A video of the five men pledging allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was released by an official Daesh media channel.
Tajik authorities have so far ignored the video evidence, instead blaming a former opposition party — the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan — that was banned by the government in 2015.
The fact the trial is closed has raised concerns about due process in a country with a poor record on political freedoms and human rights.
Abdusamadov implicated the IRPT as the ultimate organizer of the attack in a televised confession, but critics say the government is using the case to tar the opposition.
A dozen senior members of the IRPT are serving long sentences up to life on charges government critics say are trumped up.
In addition to Abdusamadov, 16 other people stand accused of not offering information to the authorities that could have prevented the attack, a source in the police told AFP.