During a meeting with her Russian counterpart in China this week, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she pressed Moscow to end its war with Ukraine, citing the urgent humanitarian situation and the conflict’s ripple effects on the world economy.
Her Wednesday talk with Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an international meeting to discuss the situation in another country scarred by war – Afghanistan – focused on the war in Ukraine, Retno told reporters on Thursday.
“Indonesia conveyed the importance of ending the war immediately because of its tremendous humanitarian impact, not to mention its impact on global economic recovery,” Retno told a virtual news conference from China.
“I reiterated Indonesia’s consistent position, including respect for international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter such as sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she said.
Retno said that, during a separate meeting on Wednesday, she also asked Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to support efforts to end the Russian invasion.
“I conveyed the importance of all parties, including China, to push for an immediate end to the war so that the humanitarian crisis does not get worse,” Retno said of her meeting with Wang.
Retno talked with Lavrov and Wang on the sidelines of a dialogue between Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and its neighboring Chinese district of Tunxi. The dialogue sought to stabilize Afghanistan, which is known today as an Islamic emirate after the Taliban took over following the withdrawal of U.S. forces last year.
Regarding Ukraine, Indonesian officials hope negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv could be positive, she said.
“Flexibility is needed so that negotiations can produce good results. And all parties must strive to end the war immediately to avoid the worsening of the humanitarian situation,” she said.
During peace talks in Istanbul on Tuesday, Russian negotiators agreed to “fundamentally” cut back operations near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, news agencies reported.
Alexander Fomin, Russia’s deputy defense minister, said the move was meant “to increase trust and create conditions for further negotiations.”
Despite those statements, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday dismissed Russia’s pledge, saying his army was getting ready for clashes in the east, Agence France-Presse reported.
“We don’t believe anyone, not a single beautiful phrase,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to his nation. “We will not give anything away. We will fight for every meter of our territory.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, more than 4 million Ukrainians have fled their country, according to a United Nations report.
Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law professor at the University of Indonesia, said Jakarta should maintain communication with all parties in the Ukraine conflict.
“Indonesia can also send its foreign ministers or a special envoy to engage in shuttle diplomacy to discuss solutions [on ending the war],” he told BenarNews.
He noted that Indonesia will be hosting the G-20 summit of the world’s leading economies in October, and that could be spurring the nation’s interest in seeing fighting end in Ukraine.
“Indonesia through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must act immediately to make the G-20 summit a success and ensure that all heads of government and heads of state are present,” he said.
Indonesia has sent invitations to all member countries, including Russia, foreign ministry official Dian Triansyah Djani said earlier.
Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia has said that Putin planned to attend G-20 summit in Bali despite attempts by Western governments to oust Moscow from the grouping.
Ukraine, which is not a G-20 member, had previously urged Indonesia to include discussions on the invasion during the summit.
But Teuku Faizasyah, spokesman for Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had said Jakarta’s stance was “that the G-20 summit should focus on global economic issues.”
While attending the gathering of Afghanistan and other countries during the China dialogue, Retno said she stressed the need for the ruling Taliban to open education to all children.
In his own message to dialogue attendees, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged his nation’s support for Afghanistan but without mentioning the Taliban’s alleged human rights abuses, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile on March 26, Indonesian and Qatari officials signed a letter of intent to provide scholarships and skills training for teen girls in Afghanistan, Retno said.
“I expressed my hope that the ban on schooling for Afghan girls at the secondary school level can be reviewed,” she said of her statement at the dialogue.
“As the largest Muslim country, Indonesia is ready to contribute to helping the people of Afghanistan, including in the field of education,” she said.
The Taliban, which returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, had planned to allow teen girls to attend secondary schools, but dropped the plan last week over concerns about uniforms and the dress-code for schoolgirls. Girls can attend school up to grade six.
She said it was important that the Taliban make good on its promises.
“The Taliban needs to prepare a road map with concrete steps and timelines for fulfilling promises,” Retno said.
BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated online news service.