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Indonesia to reject Australia's 'boat people' plan

Early setback for new Australian PM

Indonesia to reject Australia's 'boat people' plan

Asylum seekers return to Indonesia (file photo: Bay Ismoyo/AFP)

Jakarta Post reporters

September 13, 2013

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Indonesia will reject Australian Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott’s plan to disburse million of dollars to Indonesian villagers for information about people smugglers as part of efforts to halt the flow of asylum seekers to Australia, says Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

The plan, which the Indonesian government previously refused to comment on as it had only been voiced by Abbott during his campaign, will likely become a state policy as he has won the election.

Marty said on Wednesday that Indonesia would not accept such policy as it was not in line with the spirit of partnership between the two countries.

“We will have a discussion with Abbott prior to the APEC Summit in October. We will reject his policy on asylum seekers and any other policy that harms the spirit of partnership,” he said during a meeting with the House of Representatives’ Commission I overseeing foreign affairs and defense.

During his campaign, Abbott revealed his plan for more regional action to stop people smuggling, pledging A$420 million (US$ 379 million) for policy measures that included paying Indonesian villagers for information about smugglers and buying unseaworthy boats, according to Australian media.

Abbott said roughly $20 million would be allocated to “village watch” activities, according to the ABC.Marty confirmed that Abbott would make his first state visit to meet with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ahead of the APEC Summit. “Discussing Abbott’s controversial plan on asylum seekers will be one of main agenda’s during the visit,” Marty added.

Abbott’s proposal has sparked criticism from politicians and experts in the country. Tantowi Yahya, a member of House Commission I, said on Wednesday that the plan would potentially harm bilateral relations between Indonesia and Australia.

“Our bilateral relations with Australia were good during Kevin Rudd’s leadership, but they may not be during Abbott’s leadership,” he said.

Full Story: Indonesia to reject Abbott’s 
boat people plan 

Source: Jakarta Post

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