Washington. The United States said on Thursday it will sell Indonesia eight AH-64/D Apache helicopters to strengthen security ties with the largest country in Southeast Asia and the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking during a meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in Washington, said Congress had been notified of the intent to sell the aircraft.
“This agreement will strengthen our comprehensive partnership and help enhance security across the region,” Clinton said.
President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to buttress defense ties with Indonesia as it refocuses its attention toward the Asia-Pacific following long years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The United States has stepped up military cooperation with traditional allies such as the Philippines and Australia, and joined regional efforts to press China to accept a multilateral framework for solving flaring territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Clinton did not reveal an estimated cost for the Apache deal, which Indonesian media have reported has been in the works for months. The attack helicopters, used by militaries around the world, are made by Boeing.
The United States last year announced it was giving Indonesia two dozen second-hand F-16 fighter planes, with Jakarta covering the estimated $750 million needed to refurbish the late-model fighters and overhaul their engines.
US officials say the delivery of US hardware will improve cooperation and information-sharing between the US and Indonesian militaries as they face common security threats.
The announcement of the helicopter sale came as Clinton and Natalegawa wound up the third regular US-Indonesia joint commission meeting, with both saying that ties between the two countries had grown stronger.
Clinton, who visited Indonesia this month as part of an Asia-Pacific tour, said trade topped $26 billion last year and that the United States would invest $600 million over the next five years in Indonesian clean energy development, child health and nutrition programs and government transparency initiatives under its Millennium Challenge aid program.
Indonesia has been among the nations hit by violent anti-American protests over the past week to protest against a US-made video seen as critical of Islam.
Clinton said that the United States had decided to temporarily close its diplomatic facilities in the country on Friday in case further protests erupt. But she praised Jakarta for its response to the crisis.
“We are very grateful for not only the cooperation and the protection that has been provided to our facilities, but also for the strong statements condemning violence,” Clinton said.