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

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.


Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

Updated 16 September 2019

Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

  • Invitation extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited US President Donald Trump to Pyongyang in his latest letter to the American head of state,  South Korea’s top diplomat said on Monday.

“I heard detailed explanations from US officials that there was such a letter a while ago,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa told a  parliamentary session. “But I’m not in a position to confirm what’s in the letter or when it was delivered.”

The foreign minister’s remarks followed reports by a local newspaper, JoongAng Ilbo, which said that Kim’s invitation was extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15.

If true, the invitation was made as diplomats of the two governments were in a tug-of-war over the resumption of working-level talks for the North’s denuclearization efforts.

During a surprise meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30, Trump and Kim pledged that working-level nuclear disarmament talks would resume within a month, but no such talks have been held,  with both sides indulging in a blame game instead.

“We are very curious about the background of the American top  diplomat’s thoughtless remarks and we will watch what calculations he has,” North Korea’s first vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Aug. 30 in a statement carried by the North’s official Central News Agency (KCNA). He was referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments terming Pyongyang’s rocket launches as “rogue.”

However, the tone has changed significantly with the communist state recently offering to return to dialogue with Washington “at a time and place agreed late in September.”

“I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said on Aug. 30.

On Monday, the director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department of American affairs said working-level denuclearization talks will likely take place “in a few weeks” but demanded security guarantees and sanctions’ relief as prerequisites.

“The discussion of denuclearization may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our  development are clearly removed beyond all doubt,” the statement said. 

HIGHLIGHT

It’s not clear whether the US president has responded to the invitation, thought he has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was upbeat about the early resumption of nuclear talks.

“North Korea-US working-level dialogue will resume soon,” he said, citing an “unchanged commitment” to trust and peace by the leaders of both Koreas and the US. 

The working-level meeting will serve as a “force to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Moon is scheduled to meet Trump on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in New York next week.

“It will be an opportunity to share opinions and gather wisdom with Trump on the direction of further development of South Korea-US  relations,” he said.

The White House offered no immediate comment.

It’s not clear whether Trump responded to Kim’s invitation to Pyongyang, but the US commander-in-chief has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator, who oversaw the test-firings of short-range ballistic missiles and multiple launch rockets more than half a dozen times since late July.

While none of the projectiles are a direct threat to the US continent they still pose threats to US and its allied forces in South Korea and Japan.

“Kim Jong-un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think,” Trump told reporters on August 24 before flying off to meet with world leaders at the G7 in France. “And we’re going to see what’s going on. We’re going to see what’s happening. He likes testing missiles.”

Experts say the apparent firing of US National Security Adviser John Bolton has also boosted chances of fresh negotiations with the North, which had long criticized him for his hawkish approach toward the regime.

“The displacement of a ‘bad guy’ could be construed as a negotiating tactic to seek a breakthrough in the stalemate of nuclear talks. It’s a show of a will to engage the counterpart in a friendlier manner from the perspective of negotiation science,” Park Sang-ki, an adjunct professor at the department of business management at Sejong University in Seoul, told Arab News.