Iran’s leader visits Indonesia to deepen economic ties amid global geopolitical challenges

BOGOR, Indonesia — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will meet his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo on Tuesday during a two-day trip aimed at strengthening economic ties between the Muslim-majority nations amid heightened global geopolitical tensions.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry said it is visiting at the invitation of Raisi Widodo as Indonesia aims to speed up its post-pandemic recovery by increasing exports.

The visit is expected to deepen Iran’s ties with Indonesia as Tehran seeks alternatives to US-led Western dominance in international affairs and seeks further cooperation after the two countries completed talks on an Indonesia-Iran preferential trade deal this month, Indonesia’s trade ministry said. ministry. .

Trade between Indonesia and Iran amounted to $54.1 million between January and March, while the value of bilateral trade increased by more than 23% to $257.2 million last year, according to the ministry.

Iran has not been a traditional trading partner for Indonesia, said Johni Martha, director of bilateral negotiations at the Indonesian Ministry of Trade. “With this PTA, we hope to broaden our market reach and export opportunities in the Middle East and Persia,” he said.

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Southeast Asia’s largest economy is seeking new markets to diversify its export options and reduce its dependence on traditional trading partners, many of which have been affected by a weakened global economy and geopolitical risks.

In February, Raisi met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to seek further cooperation after their meeting in Uzbekistan last September, when Xi emphasized China’s support for Iran.

Both countries have strained relations with the United States and have tried to project themselves alongside Russia as a counterweight to American power.

Washington has accused Iran of selling hundreds of drones to Russia over the war in Ukraine and sanctioned the executives of an Iranian drone manufacturer. At the same time, relations between Moscow and Beijing strengthened.

In Indonesia, Raisi is scheduled to lay a wreath at Jakarta’s Kalibata Heroes Cemetery to pay tribute to Indonesia’s war dead before meeting Widodo at the presidential palace in Bogor. They will witness the signing of PTA and other agreements.

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Before leaving Jakarta on Wednesday, Raisi will also meet with Indonesian Speaker Puan Maharani, religious figures and businessmen. He visits the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Jakarta, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, and gives public lectures at an Islamic university.

Widodo’s last trip to Iran was in 2016, while the last official state visit to Iran was in 2015 when Hassan Rouhani attended the 50th commemoration of the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung.