Australia, Indonesia hope to heal rift with pact

Published August 19, 2014 2:30PM (EDT)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia and Indonesia have reached an agreement that will heal a bilateral rift sparked last November by accusations that Australia had tapped the cellphones of the Indonesian president, his wife and eight Indonesian ministers and officials in 2009, an official said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that she will fly to Jakarta soon to sign the code of conduct that Indonesia insisted upon before diplomatic relations are normalized.

"We have reached agreement on the joint understanding and we are currently arranging a time to sign it," Bishop said in a statement.

Outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono downgraded the bilateral relationship and withdrew his ambassador from Australia in protest at media reports of phone-tapping allegations from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Relations have been gradually proving since then, and Indonesian Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema returned to Canberra in May.

Bishop did not release details of the pact, which will also be signed by her Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa.

In Jakarta, Teuku Faizasyah, a presidential spokesman, confirmed the agreement would be signed in Indonesia but could not yet say when.

He said Yudhoyono had set his presence at the signing as a prerequisite.

"Therefore, we will be looking for an appropriate time to enable his presence at the signing," Faizasyah told The Associated Press.

He expressed hope that with the code of conduct, phone tapping would not occur in the future.

Faizasyah, however, said a resumption of cooperation between the countries would be left for Indonesia's new government, which will be sworn in Oct. 20.

"The important thing is the (current) government is preparing the ground toward that resumption," he said.

The Australian newspaper reported that the agreement will be called the Joint Understanding of a Code of Conduct and will be an annex to the Lombok Treaty on mutual security signed between the countries in 2006.


Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

By Rod Mcguirk

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