Tony Abbott Declares Boats Issue with Indonesia 'Resolved'; Spying Code of Conduct Under Negotiation
By Reissa Su | June 5, 2014 6:16 PM EST
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has officially declared the boats issue "resolved" with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He said his hardline policy meant it will not "substantially further trouble us."
File photo of Australia's PM Abbott being welcomed by Indonesia's President Yudhoyono as he arrives for the ABAC Dialogue with Leaders at the APEC Summit in Nusa Dua. November 24, 2013.
According to reports, Yudhoyono did not mention the boat people issue or his reaction toward the Operation Sovereign Borders, which only brings back the problem to Indonesia where about 10,000 asylum seekers were stranded.
During their meeting, the two leaders had spoken warmly since the spying row in November had dampened the relationship between Australia and Indonesia, which led Yudhoyono to express his disappointment in his memoirs in January.
On June 4, the Indonesian president downplayed the boat issue and only said it "almost distracted our good relations." Yudhoyono said he hoped the ties between his country and Australia will become stronger. Reports said the two nations' foreign ministers are currently negotiating a spying code of conduct.
Abbott admitted there have been a "couple of issues" between the two countries but the boats issue is on its way to a resolution. On the issue of spying, Abbott offered to step up intelligence sharing and said the future challenges will only affect both nations.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa who had lashed out at Australia amid the boats issue was "conciliatory" after the meeting. He refused to comment on Abbott's statement that people smuggling was no longer an issue. He only said the spying code is "very easy and simple' for both countries since they will agree not to listen to each other's phone conversations.
When Abbott arrived at the island, he made it clear there will be no resolution to the spying code issue stressing he was only there to mend ties with Indonesia and pay his respects to the president.
Reports said Indonesia has made it clear that to maintain a "normal" relationship between the two countries, both governments will have to process, sign and implement a "code of conduct" regarding government surveillance.
Yudhoyono wants to have the agreement finalized by August and Abbott said Australia may be ready for the dialogue between defense and foreign ministers in the next few weeks.
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