Indonesia/Transnational issues

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Since independence, Indonesia has espoused a "free and active" foreign policy, seeking to play a role in regional affairs commensurate with its size and location but avoiding involvement in conflicts among major powers. Indonesian foreign policy under the "New Order" government of President Soeharto moved away from the stridently anti-Western, anti-American posturing that characterized the latter part of the Sukarno era. Following Soeharto's ouster in 1998, Presidents Habibie and Wahid have preserved the broad outlines of Soeharto's independent, moderate foreign policy. Preoccupation with domestic problems has not prevented President Wahid from frequently traveling abroad and continuing to participate vigorously, though peripatetically, in many international fora. The traumatic separation of East Timor from Indonesia after an August 1999 East Timor referendum, and subsequent events in East and West Timor, strained Indonesia's relations with the international community.

A cornerstone of Indonesia's contemporary foreign policy is its participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which it was a founding member in 1967 with Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. Since then, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and Cambodia also have joined ASEAN. While organized to promote common economic, social, and cultural goals, ASEAN acquired a security dimension after Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia in 1979; this aspect of ASEAN expanded with the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum in 1994, which comprises 22 countries, including the U.S. Indonesia's continued domestic troubles have distracted it from ASEAN matters and consequently lessened its influence within the organization.

Indonesia also was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and has taken moderate positions in its councils. As NAM Chairman in 1992-95, it led NAM positions away from the rhetoric of North-South confrontation, advocating instead the broadening of North-South cooperation in the area of development. Indonesia continues to be a prominent, and generally helpful, leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, though it is a secular state, and is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It carefully considers the interests of Islamic solidarity in its foreign policy decisions but generally has been an influence for moderation in the OIC. President Wahid has pursued better relations with Israel, and in August 2000 he met with former Israeli Prime Minister Peres.

After 1966, Indonesia welcomed and maintained close relations with the donor community, particularly the United States, western Europe, Australia, and Japan, through the Intergovernmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI) and its successor, the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI), which have provided substantial foreign economic assistance. Problems in Timor and Indonesia's reluctance to implement economic reform, have complicated Indonesia's relationship with donors.

Indonesia has been a strong supporter of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Largely through the efforts of President Soeharto at the 1994 meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, APEC members agreed to implement free trade in the region by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies.

Disputes - international: Sipadan and Ligitan Islands in dispute with Malaysia

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis largely for domestic use; possible growing role as transshipment point for Golden Triangle heroin