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Indonesia Rejects US Request to Allow P-8 Spy Planes to Land and Refuel - Reports

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Indonesia has refused to allow P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes of the United States military to land and refuel in the country despite several requests from Washington, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing four high-ranking Indonesian officials.

The US-made proposals to Indonesian defence and foreign ministers in July and August before approaching Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who rejected the request, according to Reuters.

Indonesian officials told the news agency that Jakarta decided to stay true to its neutral foreign policy amid the US-China tensions over regional influence.

In September, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that Jakarta does not want "to get trapped by this rivalry".

The news agency noted that the US-made P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes are crucial in monitoring China’s military activities in the South China Sea amid tensions between Beijing and its regional neighbours over the control of resource-rich waters. Indonesia also considers parts of the South China Sea as its own. Washington views the sea as an international waterway and routinely defies China with surveillance flights, and patrols by US warships.

Fighter jet takes off from the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier amid drills in the South China Sea. - Sputnik International
Beijing Warns of Possible 'Military Accidents' After US' 'Provocative Behaviour' in South China Sea
China has accused the US of trying to increase its presence in the South China Sea by sending navy ships to conduct freedom of navigation operations and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait after an American warship crossed the waterway on Wednesday. Whereas Beijing says it violates its sovereignty, the US insists the strait is part of international waters and its "freedom of navigation" operations are in line with international law.

Recently, the US blacklisted 24 Chinese companies, saying that they are helping the ruling Chinese Communist Party construct artificial islands in the South China Sea, which the US sees as a military provocation.

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