SYDNEY Australia and Indonesia said on Sunday that full military ties between the two countries had been restored, after Indonesia’s military suspended cooperation in January because of “insulting” teaching material found at an Australian base.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement alongside Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who arrived in Australia on Saturday for his first visit as president.
“President Widodo and I have agreed to full restoration of defense cooperation, training exchanges and activities,” Turnbull said at a news conference in Sydney.
Widodo’s visit to Australia comes less than two months after military ties were suspended, an event that sparked a minor diplomatic spat and led to an apology from Australia’s army chief in February. Military cooperation between the two countries has ranged from joint training and counter-terrorism cooperation to border protection.
The “insulting” material suggested that Indonesia’s Papua province should be independent and mocked the nation’s state ideology.
Indonesia and Australia have a history of patchy ties, but both leaders were keen on Sunday to emphasize their commitment to a strong relationship.
“That robust relationship can be established when both countries have respect for each other’s territorial integrity, non-interference into the domestic affairs of each other and the ability to develop a mutually beneficial partnership,” Widodo said.
While the primary focus of the visit was on security and economic issues, including the finalization of a bilateral free trade deal by the end of the year, talks touched on tourism, cyber security and social links.
Widodo met Australian business leaders on Saturday, telling them that investor confidence in Indonesia was strong and reassuring them that Indonesia was a stable country in which to do business.
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