Closer ties with Indonesia
By Lyna Mohammad & M K Anwar

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night highlighted the close relationship and cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Indonesia.

His Majesty said this at a State Banquet last night held at the Istana Nurul Iman in honour of the visiting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The Indonesian leader is on a two-day State Visit.

His Majesty noted that the relationship between Brunei and Indonesia is more than a normal relationship and is further strengthened by the similarities in beliefs, culture and language.

His Majesty said that this would be the basis to further identify as well as strengthen the present relationship in different fields including trade, investment, education and defence.

Talking on trade, His Majesty said that if this works out well it would yield better prospects in enhancing the cooperation.

In this respect the monarch stated that the efforts of both trading partners are most welcome as it should assist in the opening of opportunities in trade and investment.

Meanwhile on education, His Majesty said cooperation in this field has resulted in many benefits and His Majesty also believed that the defence cooperation would contribute to prosperity and stability in the region.

"Our military personnel are actively organising joint exercises aimed at sharing experience and skills in this filed," His Majesty said and added that this strong relationship must be continued.

The Indonesian president, in his speech, lauded the strong bilateral ties between Brunei and Indonesia and hoped to strengthen the relationship further.

Earlier in the day, His Majesty, Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha and YTM Azrinaz Mazhar granted an audience to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, and his wife Ibu Hajah Ani Bambang Yudhoyono. The ceremony took place at the Istana Nurul Iman.

In the morning, the Indonesian president was welcomed at the airport by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

At the Istana, an official welcoming ceremony was held as His Majesty, Her Majesty, YTM Azrinaz, the Indonesian President and Ibu Hajah Ani received a royal salute at the royal dais.

The national anthems of both countries were played followed by a 21-gun salute.

His Majesty and the Indonesian president later inspected a guard of honour. The Indonesian president and Ibu Hajah Ani were then introduced to other members of the royal family, Cabinet Ministers, members of the Privy Council, Deputy Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, members of the Legislative Council and their spouses.

Their Majesties, YTM Azrinaz, the Indonesian president and Ibu Hajah Ani proceeded to the audience ceremony. Also present were HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Abdul Malik, HRH Princess Hjh Masna and HRH Princess Hjh Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam.

During the audience ceremony, His Majesty consented to bestow the state decoration of Brunei Darussalam, the Most Esteemed Family Order Laila Utama or Darjah Kerabat Laila Utama Yang Amat Dihormati, DK, which carries the title Dato Laila Utama, on President Yudhoyono.

Later, His Majesty and the Indonesian President held a four-eye meeting. - Borneo Bulletin (28th Feb 2006)