SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday said he regrets any embarrassment to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over claims his phone was spied on, but stopped short of an apology.
"Australia has deep respect for Indonesia, for its government and for its people," he told parliament of the vital strategic and trading partner.
"I regard President Yudhoyono as a good friend of Australia, indeed as one of the very best friends that we have anywhere in the world.
"That's why, I sincerely regret any embarrassment recent media reports have caused him."
But Abbott made clear Australia should not be expected to apologise for working to protect the nation.
"Australia should not be expected to apologise for the steps we take to protect our country now or in the past, any more than other governments should be expected to apologise for the similar steps that they have taken," he said.
"Importantly, in Australia's case, we use all our resources - including information - to help our friends and allies."
The comments came after Yudhoyono said Jakarta was reviewing cooperation with Australia and angrily recalled its ambassador from Canberra, in response to reports that Australian intelligence agencies targeted his phone calls, as well as those of his wife and senior ministers.
The Indonesian leader also hit out at Abbott over what he said was a lack of remorse over the allegations.