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ndonesian remarks linking sand ban to extradition treaty disappointing: MFA

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
19 February 2007 1820 hrs

"A disappointment to us" - that is what Singapore's Foreign Ministry says of remarks by a Director-General of the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs, Primo Alui Joelianto on the recent sand ban to the Republic.

The Jakarta Post of 16th February had reported Mr Primo as saying the ban was a "key way of placing more pressure" on Singapore to resolve differences in extradition and some border negotiations.

Singapore's Foreign Ministry said the official reason given for the ban last month was environmental protection.

But Mr Primo's remarks now leads Singapore to wonder whether that was the main reason.

Singapore had expressed willingness to work with Indonesia on environmental protection, but Indonesia ignored this offer and proceeded with the ban.

Singapore says it embarked on negotiations with Indonesia on the Extradition Treaty and border delineation in good faith on the basis of mutual benefit.

On the Extradition Treaty, both Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had agreed in Bali on 3 October 2005 that it would be in parallel and linked to the negotiation on a Defence Cooperation Agreement.

On that basis, good progress has been made on both agreements even though some difficulties remain.

What is needed now is political goodwill on both sides to finalise the agreements which, from Singapore's perspective, is within reach.

However, unilaterally making sand an additional issue with the objective of delinking the Defence Cooperation Agreement from the Extradition Treaty, contravened the earlier agreement by the leaders of Singapore and Indonesia when they met in Bali in October 2005. - CNA/ch