Australia says to restore intelligence and military cooperation with Indonesia

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 19, 2014 12:38 AM

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia has reached a deal with Indonesia to resume intelligence and military cooperation, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Tuesday, ending a long rift which erupted late last year over Australian spying.

Bishop and Prime Minister Tony Abbott will travel to Indonesia to sign the new "Joint Understanding of a Code of Conduct" with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Indonesia's outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Australian media said.

"We have reached agreement on the joint understanding and we are currently arranging a time to sign it," Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., without providing further details.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

The often tetchy relations between the two countries struck a new low in November over media revelations that Australia had spied on Yudhoyono, his wife and other top Indonesian officials.

Ties have been further strained over the issue of asylum seekers who attempt to sail to Australia via Indonesia.

Abbott implemented a policy of towing back to Indonesia often leaky vessels carrying asylum seekers, which has been condemned by Jakarta.

Indonesia suspended military and police cooperation with Australia over asylum seekers. Yudhoyono in December presented a six-point plan for restoring good relations, including a code of conduct on intelligence matters.

The Australian newspaper reported that Yudhoyono had reviewed the new code and that it includes a promise by Australia not to use its spy agencies to harm its neighbor.

(Reporting By Jane Wardell. Additional reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor in JAKARTA; Editing by Kim Coghill)