News World You’re dumped: Indonesia downgrades Australia relationship

You’re dumped: Indonesia downgrades Australia relationship

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Indonesia has officially “downgraded” its relationship with Australia in the wake of spying allegations.

“The downgrading in the level of the Indonesian-Australian relationship has been done,” Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa said on Wednesday.

“We have taken measured steps in accordance with their response and attitude.”

Dr Natalegawa made the comments on his way into the Indonesian foreign ministry in Jakarta for a meeting with the country’s ambassador to Australia Nadjib Kesoema.

“We have already adjusted various forms of cooperation,” he said. “We are turning off the tap by degrees.”

Jakarta is demanding an explanation and an official response from Prime Minister Tony Abbott in relation to allegations Australian spies monitored the phone activity of the Indonesian president, his wife and some of his closest confidants in 2009.

Mr Kesoema was recalled from Canberra earlier this week as Indonesia insisted on an official explanation from Australia.

Not backing down

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to meet Indonesian demands that he apologises and clarifies the phone tapping reports.

Mr Abbott says he’s not going to overreact to claims about Australia’s involvement in spying on the Indonesian president.

And Mr Abbott again reiterated his regret over the embarrassment caused to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by reporting of the claims.

“I deeply and sincerely regret the embarrassment that media reports have caused President Yudhoyono, who is a very good friend of Australia,” he told parliament during question time on Wednesday.

“I do understand how personally hurtful these allegations have been, these reports have been, for him and his family.”

Mr Abbott was responding to a question from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten about what had been done in the past 24 hours to repair Australia-Indonesia relations over the spying issue.

“I do note that there have been allegations and even admissions in the past on this subject,” Mr Abbott said.

“People didn’t overreact then and I certainly don’t propose to overreact now.”

Mr Abbott said his intention – “not withstanding the difficulties of these days” – was to do everything reasonable to build and strengthen the relationship with Indonesia.

Diplomacy at work

Meanwhile, the head of Indonesia’s intelligence service says he has been assured by his Australian counterparts that they will not tap the phones of the country’s president again.

Marciano Norman, chief of the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN), said the body has spoken to Australian intelligence officials about the claims.

“Indonesia’s intelligence body has communicated directly with Australian intelligence and in our communication, they stated that now and in the future, the most important thing that it won’t happen again,” Mr Norman told reporters at Jakarta’s presidential palace.

“That’s their language, now and in future, they assured that it won’t happen again.”