Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties

Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties
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Indonesian actor Dude Herlino and his actress wife Alyssa Soebandono posed for a photo during a reception to celebrate Saudi National Day in Jakarta. (AN photo by Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)
Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties
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Indonesia's Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Saifuddin and Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Indonesia Esam Abid Althagafi at the reception to celebrate the Saudi National Day in Jakarta. (AN photo by Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)
Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties
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Indonesian actor Dude Herlino and his actress wife Alyssa Soebandono posed with staff from Saudia airlines for a photo during a reception to celebrate Saudi National Day in Jakarta. (AN photo by Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)
Updated 24 September 2019

Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties

Indonesians celebrate Saudi National Day, hope for stronger bilateral ties
  • Saudi Arabia is still one of the major sources of foreign tourists to Indonesia

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Saifuddin extended on Monday the best wishes to Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the Kingdom’s National Day and expressed hope for stronger ties between the two countries.

“On behalf of the Indonesian government, we rejoiced in this celebration and prayed that the Kingdom and the people of Saudi Arabia are always blessed and under God’s protection,” Saifuddin told journalists during a reception at a hotel in Jakarta held by the Saudi Embassy.

The minister, who was the guest of honor at the reception, said the two countries have ties that Islamic scholars cemented centuries ago and that they remain the same today.

Saudi Arabia is still one of the major sources of foreign tourists to Indonesia, and the biggest from the Middle East, with 165,852 Saudis visiting Indonesia in 2018.

“We hope to see more of our brothers and sisters from Saudi Arabia visiting Indonesia in the coming years,” Saifuddin said.

Trade between the two countries increased from $4.5 billion (SR16.8 billion) in 2017 to $6.13 billion in 2018. Saudi Arabia is one of Indonesia’s most important partners in the investment sector, with investment value increasing from $3.5 million in 2017 to $5.36 million last year. 

“The government of Indonesia wishes to cooperate more to ensure intensification of Saudi direct investments in the country,” Saifuddin said.

Saudi Ambassador Esam Abid Althagafi said that the Kingdom continues development in all sectors in line with the 2030 Vision reform plans, which has shown significant results among developing countries.

Indonesian actor Dude Herlino and his actress wife Alyssa Soebandono were also among the guests attending the reception. Herlino was one of the guests invited by the Saudi Ministry of Media to perform Hajj this year.

He told Arab News that it was a memorable experience and he was grateful for the privilege.

“I was extended the best service, including the opportunity for a helicopter ride above Makkah,” Herlino said.

“We would like to congratulate the Kingdom for its national day celebration and I hope that Indonesia and Saudi Arabia’s bilateral relations will remain strong,” he added.


Kabul says no impact on security as US reduces troops to 2,500

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 23 min 55 sec ago

Kabul says no impact on security as US reduces troops to 2,500

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Reduction means the lowest level of US forces in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US invaded the country and ousted the Taliban
  • Taliban welcome the US move, describing it as important in the implementation of a historic deal signed by the group and Washington in February

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan National Security Council said on Saturday that the reduction of US forces in the country has no major impact on the security situation, as Washington announced it had met its goal of decreasing the number of troops to 2,500.

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.

The troop reduction means the lowest level of American forces in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US invaded the country and ousted the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan from 1996.

“The reduction or increase of the American forces does not have any major negative impact on the fighting situation in Afghanistan,” Maulvi Rahmatullah, spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council, said in a video response to the Pentagon announcement.

However, Afghanistan’s vice president, Amrullah Saleh, said in a BBC interview on Friday that the “pullout risks more violence in the unstable country.”

He added that the American mission, which began 20 years ago, is not yet accomplished and that the US had made a mistake by conceding too much to the Taliban.

The Taliban, meanwhile, have welcomed the US move, describing it as an important step toward the implementation of a historic deal signed by the group and Washington in Doha, Qatar, in February last year, under which all US-led troops would leave Afghanistan within 14 months.

“We consider the decision as a good and effective step toward the implementation of the Doha agreement. We, the Islamic Emirate, are also committed to all sections of the Doha agreement,” Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Arab News on Saturday.

He said the Taliban hoped that the Doha agreement would be fully implemented and all American forces would leave Afghanistan in the agreed timeframe.

“We consider withdrawal of the troops and leaving Afghan soil as a positive step for the people of the US and Afghans, and welcome it,” Mujahid said.

While acting US Defense Secretary Chris Miller said on Friday that the US was planning “further reducing US troop levels to zero by May of 2021,” he added that “any such future drawdowns remain conditions-based.”

As the Trump administration ends its term when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday, there have been few clues about what the new US government plans are for Afghanistan.