RI, Yemen agree to fight extremism [Archives:2005/868/Local News]

August 15 2005

In a move to prevent the spread of radicalism, Indonesia and Yemen have agreed to deny entry of Indonesians intending to study at universities unaccredited or unrecommended by the government of the Middle East country.

However, the two governments will initiate an exchange of students for graduate and post-graduate programs under scholarship schemes at selected state universities.

Deputy Director of Middle East Affairs at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andhika Bambang Supeno said the agreement would be part of a memorandum of understanding to be signed at the conclusion of the first joint ministerial commission here on Wednesday.

“In the case of Indonesian students wanting to study in Yemen through a private line, we basically will apply the existing standard of procedures,” Andhika said without elaborating.

An Indonesian official said earlier that the government had asked students studying at Yemeni universities and Islamic schools suspected of sowing radicalism to move to other universities there or return home, otherwise the government would revoke their passports.

The Yemeni government has also sent home a number of Indonesians studying at particular Islamic schools there because of the same fear. Most of them, however, were those studying through private placement.

Andhika said that for the initial year, Indonesia would provide scholarships for Yemeni nationals to pursue master's or doctoral degrees in economic and social fields at selected state universities here.

“We are offering 30 scholarships a year under the South-South Cooperation scheme. The scholarships for Yemeni students will probably be provided through this scheme,” said Andhika, who is part of the Indonesian delegation to the bilateral talks.

He said the Yemeni delegation had initially asked Indonesia to provide scholarships at medical and pharmaceutical schools. Indonesia was presently unable to honor the request due to financial constraints, said Andhika.

In return, Yemen will offer Indonesians scholarships to study social sciences in the Middle East country.

To realize the agreement, Andhika said third parties, including international donors and institutions, would also be invited to provide the funds needed to cover the scholarships.

Both Indonesia and Yemen are members of the Organization of Islamic Conference.

The joint commission meeting, which opened on Monday, is aimed at improving bilateral ties between the two Muslim countries.

Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda and his Yemeni counterpart Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi are scheduled to close the meeting with a joint communique on Wednesday.

They will also witness the signing of six memorandums of understanding on news exchange between Indonesian news agency Antara and official Yemeni news agency Saba , cooperation between Indonesia's National Agency for Export Development and Yemen Export Supreme Court, free zone cooperation between the Batam Industrial Development Authority (BIDA) and the Aden Free Zone of Yemen, health cooperation, human rights cooperation and agricultural cooperation.