Indonesia, Singapore Sign Maritime Border Treaty

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia and Singapore signed a treaty this week setting out part of their shared maritime boundary, in a move touted as a boon for anti-piracy efforts in the strategic Malacca Strait.

The agreement legally defines the western part of both countries’ sea boundary and was the result of nearly four years of negotiations, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda told reporters on Tuesday.

The treaty still leaves unresolved the question of exactly how the eastern part of the boundary should be defined, which was the subject of three-way talks between Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, Wirajuda said.

“On the future negotiation on (the) eastern maritime segment, we’re equally optimistic that it will be successful as well,” he said.

Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yong-Boon Yeo said the legal certainty provided by the treaty would boost anti-piracy efforts in the Malacca Strait, where recent joint patrols by the two nations have been credited with causing a drop in the number of attacks.

“We’ve already had coordinated patrols against piracy by security forces from both sides … With this new border agreement, (cooperation) will be even better,” Yeo said.

“This agreement gives us a certainty over our fixed (maritime) territories so that the security enforcement in the sea and air will be more effective,” Indonesian armed forces chief Djoko Santoso said.

More than 30 percent of world trade and half the world’s oil shipments pass through the Malacca Strait, which is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Indonesia’s navy has warned that the effects of the global financial crisis could lead to a rise in piracy in the Strait.

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