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[JAKARTA] The United States has allocated US$136 million for a partnership programme with Indonesia in the areas of science, environment, society and technology, as part of its continued diplomacy push in the country.

The announcement followed President Barack Obama's meeting with Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week (27 June) at the G20 summit in Toronto.

"Stable, dynamic and strong relations between Indonesia and the US are good for our region and for our world," said Yudhoyono.

Under the partnership, named SOLUSI — Indonesian for 'solution' and standing for Science, Oceans, Land Use, Society and Innovation — a second Tropical Forest Conservation Act agreement will be forged, along with a Forestry and Climate Support Project, Marine and Climate Support Program and a Clean Energy Development programme.

In March, the two countries signed a science and technology pact that the US Embassy in Jakarta said would "strengthen and promote scientific research and technological cooperation and will be based on shared responsibilities, equitable contributions and benefits".

Under the agreement, science and technology experts, universities and related government agencies from both countries could collaborate by, for example, exchanging information and conducting joint research projects.

The White House also announced this week that it will assist Indonesia — which pledged to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 41 per cent by 2020 — in setting up a climate change centre with regional reach and will provide US$7 million for its establishment and a further $10 million for projects it will run.

Norway has matched the US funding for the centre.

The newly announced agreements and programmes are part of the US–Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership programme that seeks to deepen the ties between the countries.

Obama has twice this year called off trips to the country, first because of a crucial domestic healthcare vote and then because of the oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.  

The US administration's science envoy, Bruce Alberts, visited Indonesia in May and "explored new areas for cooperation in science and technology," the US Embassy in Jakarta said.

Corina Sanders, the US embassy's information officer told SciDev.Net that Indonesia and the United States were working out which early projects could be started under the accord.  

"Both governments are exploring initial areas for collaboration under the agreement," she said. But the Indonesian government has not yet enforced the agreement and "the embassy is seeking ratification of the agreement through a presidential signature," she said.