HC Deb 30 June 2004 vol 423 cc281-2
Q6. Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend) (Lab)

If he will visit Indonesia after the presidential elections there later this year to discuss with the newly-elected President what further support the UK can give for its programme of reform.

The Prime Minister

I have no current plans to do so, but we look forward to developing a strong bilateral relationship with the Indonesian Government following the presidential elections. We will continue to focus on areas including support for democratic transition, tackling poverty and co-operation on fighting terrorism.

Mr. Griffiths

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and urge him, whatever the outcome of the presidential elections, to make a quick visit to Indonesia to underline our support for its reform programme of rebuilding democracy, tackling human rights abuses, overcoming international terrorism, healing Muslim-Christian conflicts and strengthening the economy. Does he agree that such a visit would help to rebuild our relations with the Muslim world and encourage British industry to invest in Indonesia and help its economic recovery, which is vital if the reform process is to be a success?

The Prime Minister

I am sorry that I cannot promise my hon. Friend that I will visit Indonesia in the near future, but I can say that we are in close contact with the Indonesian Government. We continue our work with the consultative group on Indonesia and with the Indonesia-British Business Association. I assure him, especially because of the incoming President, that we believe that there is a real opportunity to make progress in Indonesia on democracy, human rights and trade. Indonesia, as he rightly points out, is an immensely important country in the Muslim world, and how it develops will have a crucial impact on relations between the west and the Muslim world. Even if I am not visiting the country personally, I assure my hon. Friend that we will continue to be closely engaged in its development.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) (UUP)

I am sorry that the Prime Minister's busy schedule does not allow him to pencil something in because as Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, now is the time when a visit by a British Prime Minister would be helpful, especially following the inter-faith visit led by the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) several years ago. That visit helped, but will the Prime Minister accept that there has been a resurgence of atrocities in which moderate Muslims, as well as Christians, have been murdered by extreme Islamists?

The Prime Minister

I have to repeat what I said about visiting Indonesia, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is important for us to continue to help the country to make progress. It is faced with a difficult situation regarding terrorism and extremism, as are many other countries. It is a tribute to the Indonesian Government and authorities that they are trying to make progress while not imposing undue restrictions on civil liberties. We will continue to work with them to ensure that human rights, democracy and, of course, freedom from terrorism are pursued.

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