We Promise Not To Spy On You Again, Australia Tells Indonesia

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, left, talks with her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa after their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, left, talks with her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa after their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Australia has agreed to a six-point plan aimed at repairing relations with Indonesia, promising not to spy again on its northern neighbour.

A so-called “hotline” will also be established in the hope of avoiding future diplomatic rows, it was announced on Thursday following high-level talks in Jakarta between Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

However, Dr Natalegawa also insisted that military and police co-operation, as well as sharing of intelligence, will not be restored until all six points in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s roadmap are addressed.

He also refused to nominate a time-frame for discussions around the code of conduct which Dr Yudhoyono demanded in the wake of revelations his phone, and those of his wife and inner circle, were monitored by Australian spies in 2009.

Dr Natalegawa said he had already reported to the president following the talks, adding that Dr Yudhoyono had been pleased with the progress made at the meeting.

A more detailed report would later be given to Dr Yudhoyono, who was in East Java on Thursday, after which it would be decided if the discussions could move to step two in the president’s roadmap – the drafting of the code of conduct.

“Essentially, the president expressed he was pleased that we were able to communicate today and he is pleased by the progress that has been made, and asked that further efforts be made (so) that we can address in full all the various bilateral issues that must be addressed,” Dr Natalegawa said.

He refused to reveal if a more detailed explanation was given in relation to the spying activities that have seen relations between Jakarta and Canberra sink to their lowest point since the East Timor crisis in 2009.

“Certainly, our communication today helped elucidate some issues that were not specifically mentioned in the letter from the prime minister,” Dr Natalegawa said.

Ms Bishop said after the talks, which came two weeks after the suspension in co-operation on November 26, both sides had expressed a commitment to restoring the relationship and building it to its fullest potential.

The foreign minister, for the first time, confirmed Australia had agreed to follow Dr Yudhoyono’s roadmap to normalising relations, while also promising that the Abbott government would never undertake espionage activities in the future that might damage Indonesia.

“We note the steps set out by President Yudhoyono that must be taken in order to normalise the relationship and, of course, we agree to adhere to those steps,” Ms Bishop said.

“Obviously we regret the events that lead to this situation. We regret the hurt caused to President Yudhoyono and to the Indonesian people.

“As Prime Minister (Tony) Abbott has said and I reiterate, the Abbott government will not undertake any act or use our assets and resources, including intelligence assets, in any way to harm Indonesia,” Bishop said.

Ms Bishop revealed that Australia had also agreed to Indonesia’s suggestion that a hotline be established between herself and Dr Natalegawa, which would be aimed at avoiding or minimising diplomatic tensions in the future.

“We have agreed to establish a special communications channel, a hotline if you like, to ensure that we can resolve any issues in implementation, that we can avoid any unintended consequences,” Ms Bishop said.

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