JAKARTA - Indonesia rejected this year a proposal by the United States to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, Reuters reported quoting four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter.
The proposition surprised Indonesia's government, the senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter said, because Indonesia has a long-standing policy of foreign policy neutrality. The country has never allowed foreign militaries to operate there
US officials made multiple "high-level" approaches in July and August to Indonesia's defense and foreign ministers before Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, rebuffed the request, the officials said.
Representatives for Indonesia's president and defense minister, the US State Department press office and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defence and Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi declined to comment.
The proposition surprised Indonesia's government, the officials said, because Indonesia has a long-standing policy of foreign policy neutrality. The country has never allowed foreign militaries to operate there.
Greg Poling, a Southeast Asia analyst from the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said trying to get landing rights for spy planes was an example of clumsy over-reach.
"It's an indication of how little folks in the US government understand Indonesia," he told Reuters. "There's a clear ceiling to what you can do, and when it comes to Indonesia that ceiling is putting boots on the ground."
When carrying sonobuoys and missiles, the P-8 planes can detect and attack ships and submarines from long range. It also has communications systems that allow it to control unmanned aircraft.
HONG KONG NEWS