France pledges $2.6 billion for Indonesia as Hollande visits

French President Francois Hollande, right, escorted by his Indonesian counterpart Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, inspects an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Hollande is on a two-day visit to the country as part of a regional tour to boost ties with Asia. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
French President Francois Hollande, left, talks with his Indonesian counterpart Joko "Jokowi" Widodo during a meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Hollande is on a two-day visit to the country as part of a regional tour to boost ties with Asia. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
French President Francois Hollande, right, accompanied by his Indonesian counterpart Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, center, inspects an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Hollande is on a two-day visit to the country as part of a regional tour to boost ties with Asia. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
French President Francois Hollande, right, accompanied by his Indonesian counterpart Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, left, waves at school children in traditional dress waving the two nations' flags during a welcome ceremony at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Hollande is on a two-day visit to the country as part of a regional tour to boost ties with Asia. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
French President Francois Hollande, left, talks with his Indonesian counterpart Joko "Jokowi" Widodo before their joint press conference following a meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Hollande is on a two-day visit to the country as part of a regional tour to boost ties with Asia. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — France pledged $2.6 billion in investments for Indonesia and affirmed deepening ties with Southeast Asia's biggest economy during a visit Wednesday by President Francois Hollande.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo welcomed the new commitment by French investors to increase their involvement in the energy, infrastructure and retail industries.

Jokowi and Hollande witnessed the signing of five memorandums of understanding covering defense, sustainable urban development, research, technology and tourism, and also agreed to increase cooperation on maritime issues, fisheries and creative industries such as film and fashion.

"We have had a strategic partnership since 2011 and we want to deepen it through a number of agreements," Hollande said at a news conference. He said France is keen to boost the sale of Airbus jets to airlines in Indonesia, an archipelago of about 14,000 islands and more than 250 million people.

Hollande's two-day visit to Jakarta is the last leg of his Southeast Asian tour. He also visited Malaysia and Singapore. It is the first visit by a French head of state to Indonesia since 1986.

The two leaders said they support the "two-state solution" to ending the conflict between Israel and Palestine and acknowledged the importance of spreading the values of tolerance to combat extremism and terrorism.

Jokowi said he was grateful that the French government had not gone ahead with a plan to nearly triple a tax on palm oil to 300 euros ($327) a ton.

Palm oil is a booming industry in Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia, but is also notorious for the destruction of tropical forests and abuses in its plantation work force, which numbers 16 million people in Indonesia alone.

"We appreciate that the French government has not supported discriminatory treatment against Indonesian palm oil," Jokowi said.

Indonesia has a plan to make the palm oil industry sustainable, he said.

You may also interested in

Prosecutors seek caning for gay couple in...

May 10, 2017

Shariah prosecutors in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province are seeking 80 lashes for two men...

Suspected suicide bombs in Jakarta kills 3...

May 24, 2017

Two suspected suicide bombings near a bus terminal in Indonesia's capital Wednesday night killed...

Indonesia arrests 3 suspects in bombings that...

May 26, 2017

Indonesian police have arrested three suspects for alleged involvement in twin suicide bombings...

Islamic school seeks to steer sons of militants...

Aug 2, 2017

A former Islamic militant in Indonesia who says he regrets his past has opened up a school for the...

Indonesia deports Chinese, Taiwanese scam...

Aug 3, 2017

Indonesia deported more than 140 Chinese and Taiwanese suspects to China, where they are wanted for...

People also read these

Fears for Indonesian park's rare species as Trump...

Mar 29, 2017

A sprawling "Trump Community" that will rise next to a pristine national park in West Java has...

2 men in Indonesia's Aceh province face caning...

Apr 8, 2017

Two men in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province each face up to 100 strokes of the cane after...

Vigils held for Christian politician imprisoned...

May 12, 2017

The imprisonment of a Christian politician for blaspheming Islam has triggered an outpouring of...

Indonesia arrests 3 suspects in bombings that...

May 26, 2017

Indonesian police have arrested three suspects for alleged involvement in twin suicide bombings...

Indonesia deports Chinese, Taiwanese scam...

Aug 3, 2017

Indonesia deported more than 140 Chinese and Taiwanese suspects to China, where they are wanted for...

Sign up now!