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Germany's Merkel to visit Indonesia-kiss up for trade scraps

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Postby rath » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:18 pm

July 12, 2012

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel will make her first official visit to Indonesia next week for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and business leaders, her spokesman says.

Steffen Seibert told a regular briefing that the leader of Europe's top economy would embark on the brief trip on Monday and return to Berlin on Wednesday, as the eurozone debt crisis rumbles on.

"She will be welcomed to Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, on Tuesday by President Yudhoyono with military honours," he said.

"Afterwards, they will hold talks on bilateral, regional and global issues."

Merkel, who took office in 2005, will meet business leaders, reporters and rights activists, as well as the chief justice of the constitutional court.

She is also to visit the site of the country's tsunami early-warning system, built with German assistance, as well as a Protestant church and a mosque.

Government sources described Indonesia as a comparably stable developing country with robust prospects but expressed concerns about human rights violations in the resources-rich province of West Papua.

Merkel aims to take up issues of regional security such as the fight against piracy in the Strait of Malacca linking the Indian Ocean with the Pacific, said the officials.

However "talks on arms deals are not on the agenda", a senior Merkel aide said, adding that no specific trade pacts or business contracts were expected to be signed.

Seibert said there were no plans for Merkel to hold talks with visiting International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who will be in Jakarta on July 8-10.

Bilateral trade relations have developed briskly in recent years, with Germany exporting 3.4 billion euros ($A4.12 billion) in goods and services to Indonesia in 2011 and imports at 3.3 billion euros.
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