Subject: Jakarta shops for defence ties as relations thaw [by The Australian]

The Australian Tuesday. January 30, 2007

Jakarta shops for defence ties as relations thaw

Mark Dodd

INDONESIA is planning to buy coastal patrol vessels to bolster border protection with The Philippines and to crack down on illegal fishing and people-smuggling to Australia.

Indonesian ambassador Hamzah Thayeb said yesterday Admiral Slamet Soebijanto was negotiating to buy new defence equipment following a visit to Australia in September, a sign of the rapid thaw under way since the rupture triggered by last year's Papuan asylum decision.

And as part of the expansion of top-level defence contacts between Canberra and Jakarta, Admiral Soebijanto was followed in November by army chief General Joko Santoso.

Air Chief Marshal Herman Prayitno was expected next month.

Mr Thayeb, withdrawn in protest by Jakarta after 42 Papuan boatpeople were granted temporary protection visas by Australia, said that joint naval patrols with Australia would tackle the problem of illegal fishing and people-smuggling.

The ambassador told The Australian that while relations were in good shape and co-operation on border security, defence, policing and counter-terrorism was set to expand, Canberra's travel advisories were too alarmist and had hurt Indonesia's tourism industry.

Also, improvement in two-way trade valued at $10 billion a year -- less than Australia's trade with New Zealand -- was also highly desired.

Mr Thayeb strongly endorsed comments last week by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Michael L'Estrange that Australia's credibility as a partner in southeast Asia hinged on a strong relationship with Indonesia.

"I agree, the relationship at the moment is very good. The personal relations between our leaders is very good, but we cannot just rely on the closeness of their relationship -- we need to continue to co-operate on a range of issues," he said.

Outdated misconceptions by both countries still existed -- most recently a Lowy Institute survey citing Australian fears of Indonesia as the country's main security threat.

"But it's also on the other side. Indonesia perceives Australia as always trying to interfere in its internal affairs, fears that come from East Timor," he said.

"But that's over now and we've gone beyond that."

Australia's close relationship with the US gave it added clout in the region while Jakarta had led efforts for Canberra's participation in the annual East Asia Summit.

While more than 200 arrests had been made by Indonesian authorities in a crackdown on Islamic extremists, Mr Thayeb said, behind the headlines, the vast majority of Indonesians were moderate peace-loving people.


Terjemahan (atas jasa "Kataku"): Jakarta_shops_for_defence_ties_as_relations_thaw 

------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service

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