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Indonesia steps up hostility to Australia

Police and immigration authorities may stop preventing 'boat people' from heading south

Indonesia steps up hostility to Australia

Migrants on an Indonesia rescue boat (file picture: AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

Yuliasri Perdani and Wahyoe Boediwardhana for Jakarta Post

November 20, 2013

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As the diplomatic spat intensifies, Indonesia warned Australia on Tuesday that it would relax preventive measures against boat people using the archipelago as a stepping stone for their onward journeys to Australia.

Following a request from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for a review of areas of bilateral cooperation on Tuesday, the National Police and the Law and Human Rights Ministry, which oversees the Immigration Agency, have prepared to halt collaboration on combating people smuggling. 

National Police chief Gen. Sutarman said he would soon report a list detailing areas of police cooperation with Australia for the President to review. 

“We will wait for the President’s response on how the police should handle any cessation of cooperation,” Sutarman said, adding that topping the list would be preventive measures against asylum seekers heading toward Australia. 

The boat people issue is politically sensitive in Australia, and newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised voters he would reduce the number of boat people reaching Australian territory by forging closer relations with Indonesia. 

Those relations quickly soured on Monday following reports that the Defence Signals Directorate (now the Australian Signals Directorate) allegedly wiretapped the phones of Yudhoyono, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and several ministers in 2009.

Yudhoyono said that the US and Australian wiretapping had “certainly damaged strategic partnerships with Indonesia”.

“I also regret the statement by the Australian prime minister that without remorse belittled this matter of wiretapping Indonesia,” said Yudhoyono in his Twitter account. 

Full Story: Battle lines drawn against 

Source: Jakarta Post

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