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Indonesia, US Navy Exercises in South China Sea

Indonesia, US Navy Exercises in South China SeaIndonesia, US Navy Exercises in South China Sea

Indonesia wants to hold regular military exercises with the United States near the sparsely populated Natuna archipelago, an area of the South China Sea near China’s claims, a navy spokesman said on Monday, World Bulletin reported.

Although Indonesia is not a claimant in the South China Sea, the military has accused China of including parts of Natuna within its so called “Nine-Dash Line,” the vague boundary used on Chinese maps to lay claim to about 90 percent of the sea.

The United States, which raised concerns on Friday about China’s rapid reclamation of reefs in the area, held a joint military exercise over the weekend with Indonesia in Batam, about 300 miles from Natuna.

“It was the second joint exercise we have conducted with the United States in that area and we are planning another one next year. We want to make it routine in that area,” said Indonesia Navy spokesman Manahan Simorangkir.

Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told Reuters last week that in May he would visit Natuna, a scattering of 157 mostly uninhabited islands off the northwest coast of Borneo, to finalize plans on upgrading its small military base.

“There has always been an airport in Natuna but it does not have a lot of armed forces, only a few marines,” the minister said. “We will add forces there - possibly air, navy and land forces.”

Indonesian officials said the joint military exercises with the United States and planned military build-up in Natuna were not in response to any specific threat.

 

Financialtribune.com