SYDNEY — Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa on Friday said the stationing of US Marines in Australia needed to be better explained to all countries in Asia to avoid “mistrust”.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Natalegawa also called on Australia to “wage aggressive peace” in the region and accept that the rise of China was natural and not threatening.
The United States announced in November a plan to station some 2,500 Marines in remote Darwin by 2016-17, which was seen by some as an acknowledgement of Washington’s concern about China’s growing assertiveness.
Natalegawa said he understood the deployment of Marines was not directed at Indonesia “but unless (understanding) is properly disseminated, it could create mistrust among others”.
“There are so many potential triggers” for conflict, he added, after talks with his Australian counterpart Bob Carr.
“If we make the anarchical assumption, everyone will behave according to the worst-case scenario.”
Natalegawa argued for policies to accommodate a rising China, saying a consequence of the rising prosperity of Asia was military modernisation.
“That’s fine and normal as long as we do not attach unnecessary aggressive intent to it,” he said.
“Countries rising and falling is natural. Once you accept that, it will not be seen as threatening.”
The US currently has only a limited deployment in longstanding ally Australia, including the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility spy station near Alice Springs.