Australia aims for security, intel pacts with Indonesia

Australia aims for security, intel pacts with Indonesia
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday said he hopes to seal security and intelligence pacts with Indonesia as he looks to repair ties hurt by spying allegations.

Abbott is due to meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday, admitting there had been "rough patches" in the "critically important relationship".

Ties sunk to their lowest point for years in November after reports that Australian spies tried to tap the phones of Yudhoyono and his inner circle.

Jakarta called the actions "mind-boggling" and recalled its ambassador from Canberra, who only returned last month, while suspending cooperation in several areas.

This included on people-smuggling - another sensitive topic with Jakarta unhappy over Australia's military-led operation to stem the flow of boatpeople, who mostly make the journey from Indonesia.

Abbott said he was determined to put the relationship back on track in his meeting with Yudhoyono on the Indonesian island of Batam.

"There has been some rough patches in the relationship with Indonesia over the last nine months or so," he said, adding that some of the difficulties stemmed from before he took office.

"I am proposing to deal with that today."

At the height of the damaging spying revelations, Yudhoyono said a code of conduct to govern behaviour must be established.

Abbott said he was confident this would happen.

"The discussions with President Yudhoyono will be fairly broad-ranging and I'm hoping that at some time in the not-too-distant future we can have a security, an intelligence memorandum of understanding," he said.

"I think it is important that we have an intelligence-sharing memorandum of understanding between Australia and Indonesia because we have a lot of shared intelligence and security interests."

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