Riyadh, Jakarta work to boost cooperation

Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director of protection of Indonesian nationals & legal entities overseas.

Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director of protection of Indonesian nationals & legal entities overseas.

The Kingdom and Indonesia are working in tandem in many fields to herald a new era of bilateral cooperation, said Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s center for protection of Indonesian nationals and legal entities overseas.

Iqbal, who is in the Kingdom heading an Indonesian identification team, which arrived here to help accelerate the process of identifying victims of the Mina stampede, said: “Indonesia is working closely with the Kingdom in many areas. When President Joko Widodo met Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah recently, the two leaders discussed various ways to bolster relations, and to further bolster cooperation. Adel Al-Jubeir, minister of foreign affairs, will visit Jakarta this month to further enhance bilateral cooperation.

“So far as ongoing cooperation is concerned, the Indonesian mitigation team is in Makkah working closely with the local authorities to accelerate efforts and the process to identify the victims of the Mina stampede.”

In reply to a question on whether the request was made by the Kingdom, he said that “while meeting on the sideline of the recently concluded UN General Assembly in New York, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi discussed bilateral cooperation with Al-Jubeir and as our identification team is recognized worldwide, the minister expressed the desire to extend help to the Kingdom as a friendly gesture, which was welcomed.”

“On instructions from Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to intensify support in accelerating the identification process, we arrived here and were received by Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih,” he said.

The team is deployed in Makkah and Mina and working in close cooperation with local authorities, using its network to track down the pilgrims, he added.

“By using our ability to network, we can significantly accelerate the process of victim identification with verified data,” Iqbal noted.

He said: “What is important is to verify the cause of the tragedy to avoid such recurrence in the future and our efforts are to notify and correct that issue.”

Moreover, he stressed the fact that being the world’s largest Muslim nation, Indonesia places the Kingdom at the center of Islam because it is the cradle of Islam hosting the Two Holy Mosques.

He revealed that about a million Indonesians visited the Kingdom to perform Haj and Umrah and the number will increase this coming year.

Moreover, the presence of about another million Indonesians, residing and working in the Kingdom, continues to contribute significantly to the growing ties.

About Indonesians working in the Kingdom, he said that as long as they are here for a decent living, it is good for quality life, but if it is not decent and there are problem areas, certainly the government would prefer to engage the workforce back home.


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