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Indonesia ready to work with Australia again

November 27, 2013

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The political row over allegations that Australia spied on Indonesia appeared to ease Wednesday after their leaders issued conciliatory statements and agreed to set up “a code of conduct.”

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters he will send either Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa or a special envoy to Australia to discuss the code of conduct that would allow the two countries to continue cooperating on a number of issues, including intelligence information sharing, military and police.

Jakarta downgraded its relations with Australia last week after it emerged that the phones of Yudhoyono, his wife and other leaders were bugged by Australian agencies in 2009.

Following the reports, cooperation between the militaries and law enforcement agencies of the two countries was suspended, including work on the thorny issue of people smuggling. Indonesia also recalled its ambassador to Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot has refused to confirm or deny the reported allegations, which emerged from documents provided by U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

But Yudhoyono said he has received a quick reply to a letter he sent to Abbott outlining his concerns.

“The Australian prime minister’s commitment is that Australia will not do anything in the future that will be detrimental or disturb Indonesia,” Yudhoyono said, without providing specifics. “This is the important point.”

Abbott welcomed Yudhoyono’s statement and described the proposed code of conduct as a “good way forward.”

“It was a very warm statement. It was a statement that was very positive about Australia,” Abbott told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

“I’m going to reflect on the statement over the next day or so and then we’ll be responding more fully,” he added.

Yudhoyono also responded to new published allegations in the Sydney Morning Herald from the leaked documents that Singapore and South Korea helped the United States and Australia tap phones in Asia. He has instructed Natalegawa to summon both countries’ ambassadors for questioning about the issue.

South Korea Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters Wednesday that his government was not involved in spying and that its ambassador had explained that to the Indonesians during the meeting.

“I would like to make it clear that the report is false,” Cho said.

Update hourly