This content was published on August 01, 2022 – 09:41
Thousands of Indonesian and US troops on Monday began a two-week joint military exercise that Washington says aims to foster “regional cooperation” amid tensions with China.
The exercise is taking place on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Riau Islands, an Indonesian province made up of scattered islets near Singapore and Malaysia.
At least 4,000 American and Indonesian soldiers are on site and will be joined by Australian, Singaporean and Japanese forces. Japan is participating for the first time in these annual maneuvers.
The maneuvers come as Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is on an Asian tour with a possible stopover in Taiwan, at the risk of aggravating already strained relations between Beijing and Washington.
The United States and its Asian allies are increasingly concerned about China’s growing presence in the Pacific.
The United States, however, assured that the maneuvers are aimed at promoting “confidence, cohesion and mutual understanding” and that they are not directed against any country, even if this year they are more important than the previous editions.
“So this is a military exercise and not a threat to either side,” Gen. Stephen Smith, commander of the participating US troops, told reporters in Jakarta on Friday.
The exercises will last until August 14 and will include exercises for the army, navy and air force.
Canada, France, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Britain are participating as observers.
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