(Adds quotes from adviser, background)
ABOARD AIR FORCE TWO, April 21 U.S. Vice
President Mike Pence told Indonesian President Joko Widodo that
more steps were needed to resolve the dispute between mining
company Freeport McMoRan Inc and the Indonesian
government, a White House foreign policy adviser said on Friday.
Amid rising tensions around the world's second-biggest
copper mine, Pence briefly raised the issue during a meeting in
Jakarta on Thursday at the presidential palace.
Pence thanked Widodo for an interim fix for the dispute over
his government's changes to mining rules that had prompted
Freeport to slash output at its Grasberg copper mine.
"We don’t want to get too deep in business-to-business
issues, but when it comes to economic development and reforms
and regulations in Indonesia, we encouraged it," the adviser
told reporters traveling with Pence on his 10-day trip to Asia.
"We told them that there were more steps that needed to be
taken,” the adviser said, noting it was the only business issue
that Pence raised in his Thursday meeting with Widodo.
"It wasn’t a deep conversation; it was a few minutes," the
adviser said. "We raised it in the context of thanking them for
their initial interim resolution this week."
Freeport warned on Friday that it would punish workers for
absenteeism at its Indonesian unit, the day after one of its
main unions announced plans to go on a one-month strike over
Pence landed in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, the fourth
stop on a tour that has included meetings in Seoul, Tokyo and
Jakarta with U.S. corporations about trade and investment
Pence is slated to meet Australian Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull on Saturday and later will meet with business leaders.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Chizu
Nomiyama and Lisa Von Ahn)