Indonesia and Malaysia will start talks in August to bridge cultural differences following a squabble last October over a popular love song, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday.
The southeast Asian neighbours had bickered over the song, Rasa Sayang (Feeling of Love), which Indonesians claim as their own but was used by Malaysia in a tourism campaign. The spat sparked calls for a boycott of Malaysian products in Indonesia.
Indonesia believes the song originated from its eastern islands of Maluku, as the lyrics of the Indonesian version suggest, while Malaysians say they have been singing the song since they were young.
Discordant notes creep up occasionally in relations between the two neighbours who share cultural and religious ties, speak a similar language and practise Islam.
A eminent people's group, set up by the Indonesian and Malaysian presidents in July, will start initial discussions on August 29-30 in Jakarta to review history, misperceptions and efforts to increase people-to-people contact.
"We will listen again to their understanding of Indonesia, and our understanding of Malaysia, and why these two nations can easily be provoked over issues concerning the other," said Teuku Faizasyah, the Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman.
"We see that our relations with Malaysia should have gone further, and should not be based on ethnic group sentimentality."
The group of 14 diplomats and cultural experts from Indonesia and Malaysia is also considering reviving cultural programmes such as exchange visits and a TV show jointly produced by the two countries.
The programmes were forgotten after one of the initiators, former Indonesian president Suharto, stepped down in 1998.
As the biggest country in the region, Indonesia played a bigger role in the region until the 1990s, but its influence eroded after the political and monetary crisis in 1998.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Ağustos 2008, 15:57