Thousands of Indonesian and US troops started a joint military exercise on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and in the Riau archipelago on Monday.
According to Washington, the exercise will last two weeks and is intended to promote “regional cooperation” amid tensions with China. So writes the French news agency AFP.
About 4,000 US and Indonesian troops will participate in the annual exercise, better known as the ‘Super Garuda Shield.’ Australian, Japanese and Singaporean soldiers are also taking part.
The exercise occurs amid heightened tensions between China and the United States. Those have risen in the last two weeks after reports that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, would visit the autonomous island of Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.
Pelosi confirmed he was going to Asia, but nothing is known about a possible stopover in Taiwan. Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart, Joe Biden, during a more than two-hour telephone call not to “play with fire” on Taiwan.
“This is really an exercise to build trust, cohesion, and mutual understanding, increase capabilities,” General Stephen Smith, commander of the participating US forces, assured Friday. “So it really is a military exercise and not a threat to any party.”