By Maryam Qarehgozlou

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi’s landmark visit to Indonesia last month paved the way for cementing ties between the two countries in different fields, says an Indonesian academic.

In an interview with the Press TV website, Jamaluddin Jompa, who currently serves as rector at Hasanuddin University, one of the largest autonomous higher education institutions in Indonesia, said Tehran and Jakarta are ideally placed to bolster economic, cultural and scientific cooperation.

He particularly spoke about the untapped potential in academic and scientific spheres and said Indonesian knowledge-based companies are interested in bolstering cooperation with their Iranian counterparts.

“Our mission [of visiting the Islamic Republic of Iran] is not only for academic purposes, we want to introduce innovation-based products in the market,” said Jompa, who was leading a delegation of Indonesian academics to Iran last week.

“Hopefully that can be extended to business cooperation between Indonesia and Iran in the future.”

Jompa, who is also a Fellow of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI), hailed Iran’s progress in the medical equipment industry and said Iran’s indigenous products can plug the gap in the Indonesian market.

“Indonesia has a huge population and we still have problems in the medical sector so I think that’s one of the areas we can also work together on,” the Indonesian academic told the Press TV website.

Hasanuddin University has two hospitals, according to Jompa, adding that the medical equipment which Iran and Indonesia may produce jointly in the future can stock those hospitals.

He also said his visit to Iran aims to follow up on Tehran-Jakarta agreements signed recently that were aimed at pushing the volume of annual trade between the two countries.

President Raeisi, during his state visit to Jakarta in May, announced that Iran and Indonesia aim to increase their annual trade value to $20 billion.

He said both sides are resolute on ditching the dollar and promoting exchanges using national currencies.

Iran’s president described the expansion of ties with Indonesia, “as one of the important and effective countries in Asia and the world and a member of important regional and international organizations”, as “important” for Iran and said the two sides enjoy diverse capacities to deepen relations.

“Over the past 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have always had good interactions in various political, economic, trade, regional and international fields,” President Raeisi said at the time.

“I am here to assess the willingness of both countries to strengthen bilateral cooperation and interaction in the future,” Jompa told the Press TV website.

Student Exchange Programs

Jompa also expounded on plans to set up student exchange programs between the two countries.

“That’s one of our missions to improve the quality and number of exchanges to strengthen the next-generation relationship (between the two countries),” he asserted.

He called out Western media’s double standards in portraying Iran, saying exchange programs can allow Iranian and Indonesian students to see the “truth” about both countries.

“We hope that Iranian students come to our university (in Indonesia) to experience how Indonesians live and how they see the Iranian people and Iran as a country,” Jompa said.

“I think there’s potential for the next generation to be able to see the truth and also to come to Iran and experience the life here and I think they all will benefit.”

Jompa said at the moment there are no Iranian students at Hasanuddin University, one of the largest autonomous public higher education institutions in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

“We have one alumnus from Iran who became a lecturer. We also have an Iran corner in our university. We would like to promote our university as an open and inclusive university to all students.”

Fight Against Islamophobia

Jompa said Indonesia, with the largest Muslim population in the world, presents a “very good” example of treating religious minorities in a “very peaceful” manner.

He added that the Islamic Republic and Indonesia can jointly “promote the truth about Islam” and fight the scourge of Islamophobia currently sweeping the world.

To avoid being “overwhelmed by what the news and media say” countries must be “proactive,” so that they won’t be influenced by wrong assumptions, he asserted.

“Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in terms of population and Iran is an Islamic Republic with a majority Muslim population so there should be strong ties between the two countries.”

“I am looking forward to seeing this interaction blossom in the future and I do hope that in Iran I can change the mindset about Indonesia which is a very open country and welcomes Iranians,” he noted.

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