Indonesia's Prabowo pledges cooperation with Japan, closer China ties

April 2, 2024 10:47 PM EDT

Indonesian president-elect and current Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, left, and Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, meet at the prime minister's office, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Tokyo, Japan. Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) -Indonesia's president-elect Prabowo Subianto told Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday he wanted deeper security and economic cooperation just two days after telling Chinese President Xi Jinping he wished for close ties.

"We have built a cooperative relationship and going forward I would like to strengthen that," Prabowo told Kishida at a meeting in Tokyo.

Prabowo, who has previously said the world's fourth most populous nation was committed to a policy of non-alignment, visited Japan after travelling to China on Monday on his first foreign trip since his winning Indonesia's presidential election in February.

Both Tokyo and Beijing are courting the Southeast Asian nations that ring the contested South China Sea, most of which China claims, to gain influence in the strategic region.

Kishida told the Prabowo that Japan attached great importance on cooperating with Indonesia to strengthen international rules and said Japan, which agreed in 2023 to supply it with patrol ships, wanted to expand security cooperation, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said after the meeting.

The current defence minister and former special forces commander will be sworn in as Indonesia's president in October.

His election has raised concerns among human rights groups who point to abuses he is alleged to have committed during his time in the military. Prabowo, who was found by a military council to have kidnapped student activists in 1998, denies the accusations.

Prabowo also met Japan's Minister of Defence Minoru Kihara in Tokyo.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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