MOSCOW - Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri urged Russian business leaders on Tuesday to expand trade with her country, a day after signing a wide-ranging friendship treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
One of the goals of her visit to Russia was to "establish direct trade contacts between business leaders of the two countries," Megawati said at the opening of a Russia-Indonesia business forum in Moscow. She urged potential Russian investors to come to Indonesia to see the opportunities there "with their own eyes," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
Megawati's five-day trip was expected to focus heavily on weapons sales. Later Tuesday, she visited a testing ground for Sukhoi fighter jets in Zhukovsky outside Moscow and watched the performance of an Su-27 fighter jet.
Indonesia was expected to sign a contract for delivery of two Su-27 and two Su-30 fighters to modernize its air force. Sukhoi's chief Mikhail Pogosian said Tuesday that the negotiations were still continuing and refused to comment on the number of planes, their price and the time of delivery, the Interfax-Military News Agency reported.
A U.S. embargo on arms sales to Indonesia imposed 12 years ago because of human rights abuses has forced Jakarta to diversify its sources. The Indonesian military has already purchased some Russian military equipment and is now looking for more.
On Monday, Russian and Indonesian officials also signed agreements on expanding space and defense cooperation.
Moscow and Jakarta are seeking to expand their once-close military and economic ties. Indonesia relied heavily on Soviet military assistance in the 1950s under founding President Sukarno, Megawati's father, but the close ties were severed after the anti-communist Gen. Suharto seized power in 1965.
Overall trade between the two huge nations has slumped, coming to just US$192 million last year.
Megawati said relations "have been through periods of ups and downs" but expressed confidence they would improve. "We all want to revive such ties and take them to a much higher level," she told the Russian business leaders.
During her visit, Megawati will also receive an honorary diploma from Moscow's Institute of International Relations and attend a ballet at the Bolshoi Theater, ITAR-Tass reported.