In Jakarta, Annan applauds President Megawati's efforts to bolster ties with neighbours

In Jakarta, Annan applauds President Megawati's efforts to bolster ties with neighbours

Kofi Annan with President Megawati Soekarnoputri
Arriving in Indonesia today for an official visit, the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, applauded President Megawati Soekarnoputri's efforts to strengthen relations with neighbouring countries, describing as "wise and courageous" her decision to attend independence ceremonies this weekend in East Timor.

"I think it is a firm indication that we have decided to put the past behind us and look to the future and develop good neighbourly relations with all the neighbouring countries," Mr. Annan said during an encounter with reporters in Jakarta. "It is something that I am very pleased about, and I think the whole world has taken note."

The Secretary-General also praised President Megawati's attempts to bolster Indonesia's ties to the region, not only with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but also with the Pacific countries and Australia. "I think this is a very effective way to move forward," he noted.

"I also had a chance to applaud the President's efforts in this difficult period of transition, and the competence with which she has managed the reform process and I think she deserves our congratulations," Mr. Annan added.

The Secretary-General and the Indonesian President also discussed the last round of planning slated to take place at the end of the month in Bali for the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development.

"That conference is going to be an important one on issues of development around the world," Mr. Annan stressed, noting that it will focus on water, sanitation, agriculture production, education, health and the protection of biodiversity. "Obviously, it is not going to be a conference for and by governments alone," he said. "The private sector and civil society will be very strong part of the process."