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Indonesian Presidential Candidates Hold Third Televised Debate

A girl sings a song as she attends Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto campaign rally in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, June 22, 2014.
Indonesia's presidential candidates traded barbs over international politics and national security in their third national televised debate which was held June 22.

The two candidates are close in opinion polls ahead of the July 9 election, with Joko Widodo holding an edge over rival Prabowo Subianto. The winner will lead the world's most-populous Muslim nation for the next five years.

On the issue of the South China Sea dispute, Widodo said Indonesia should more careful in deciding what position to take.

“This has to do with other countries - but if we can play a role that will be good. But we must take note, are we going into a conflict that is going to make us have bad relations with China, or can we give solutions? If we can give solutions with our diplomatic strategy then we can go in,” he said.

Rival Subianto stressed Indonesia needed to maintain good ties with Australia, after diplomatic relations became tense following a wiretapping case.

“We want to live in peace, we want to be friends with Australia, we are not a threat to Australia. I think our duty is to convince Australians that we want to be good neighbors, and we are not up to no good. But we also must be firm in defending our core national interest,” he said.

He also said that Indonesia should prepare for a maritime pivot from the west to Asia and build maritime capabilities to ensure the readiness of the country.

“We realize that geopolitics, [the] economy shifted from west to east or from west to Asia. And we are in the middle of Indian and Pacific Ocean, we must face the challenge in building our maritime capabilities as we will be the global maritime pivot in which our country is dignified and respected,” Widodo said in his final statement.

The next debate in the series of five is scheduled for June 29.