International Affairs



Your Excellency Mr. Abdurrahman Wahid,

President of Indonesia,

Madame Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to extend a cordial welcome to you Mr. President, to Madame Sinta Nuriyah, the First Lady of Indonesia, to the members of your family and to the distinguished members of your delegation.

India and Indonesia share an age-old relationship in terms of history, culture, traditions and value systems. On this occasion I may recall what the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote on the eve of his first visit to Indonesia in 1950. He wrote: "Few countries can have such friendly relations with one another as India and Indonesia have to-day... We have been drawn to each other not so much because of political or economic advantage, but because of other and more unsubstantial reasons ... both sides had this desire to meet. Almost it might be said there was some destiny about it which brought us together and turned our minds and hearts towards each other... And so, to-day we look upon each other with a degree of affection and comradeship which seldom goes from one country to another."

Your visit to India, Excellency, at the start of the new millennium is symbolic of the minds and hearts of our two countries turning to each other again in a new era of friendship and co-operation. We have been involved together in some of the vital events of the 20th century. We have fought together in the anti-colonial struggle, helping each other and deriving inspiration from each other in that monumental struggle. The Bandung Conference held in your country marked the triumph of that struggle against colonialism and the coming on to the world stage of the newly liberated countries of Asia and Africa. By any reckoning, Bandung was a land-mark event of the 20th century. And during the period of the Cold War our two countries worked together to shape the nonalignment movement which promoted peace and the concept of peaceful co-existence when the world was divided by ideology and power-politics and its eyes were bloodshot with violence and hatred.

Mr. President, in one of your first speeches after your election as President of Indonesia at the Gandhi Ashram in Bali, you recaptured something of the spirit of Bandung when you advocated close co-operation among India, China, Japan, Indonesia and other countries of South East Asia as a method of providing a balance to the new world order. In your subsequent speeches you have expressed the desire of co-operation with India in the fields of science and technology, industries, agriculture and in the building of democratic institutions. Half a century after our independence we are to-day in a position to co-operate with each other beyond the realm of culture and sentiment and put substantial economic, scientific, technological and commercial content into the framework of our age-old friendship.

Indonesia has demonstrated that its rich natural resources and human talents can be exploited to attain miraculous levels of economic growth, and India has shown how we can produce a high growth rate and human development and through our on-going economic reforms we can emerge as one of the major economies of the world. We are convinced that in the new situation through co-operation between India and Indonesia we could promote economic progress and political stability in both our countries as well as in Asia and play a meaningful role in world economy and politics. It is in this perspective that we welcome you to-night as the harbinger of new constructive relationship between India and Indonesia in the 21st century, which might well be called the Asian Century.

Mr. President, with your deep commitment to spiritual and ethical values in public affairs and your attachment to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi you are the one leader who could give a spiritual touch to the politics of the new century. We wish you every success in your efforts at economic recovery and development of your country and in consolidating unity and stability and in building a system of democratic governance of your vast and populous country. We admire the wisdom, the patience, the determination and the spirit of tolerance with which you are tackling the formidable problems facing your country. Both our countries believe in a tolerant and pluralistic democratic society and work for a pluralist world order where no nation or group of nations dominates or exploits another.

We are co-operating in the non-alignment movement and with the developing countries to establish greater equality and economic justice among nations of the world. We have also got to fight, through international action, the new menace of international terrorism which is seeking to subvert the unity and stability of nations and the peace and security of humanity. We believe that the United Nations should be strengthened by restructuring it to reflect the realities of the world of to-day giving due representation to Asia and Africa in its Central organs. We believe that our bilateral co-operation and the co-operation among the countries of Asia in the spirit of Bandung will make the new millennium one of peace, justice and progress for the peoples of all the countries of the world.

May I request all the guests present to drink a toast:

  • to the health and happiness of His Excellency Mr. Abdurrahman Wahid, President of Indonesia and Madame Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid,
  • to peace and prosperity of the friendly people of Indonesia, and
  • to the friendship between our two countries and peoples
Thank you

Jai Hind