Indonesia accepts credentials of new Australian envoy

Indonesia accepts credentials of new Australian envoy
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo accepted on Thursday the credentials of new Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson, who was among six foreign envoys arriving for their new assignments in Jakarta.

Committed to maintaining good relations with Australia, Jokowi put aside the current strained relationship between the two countries, which was caused by the Indonesia's plan to move ahead with the executions of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who have been convicted of drug crimes.

During a brief conversation after the ceremony, Jokowi reminded the new envoys not to let Indonesia's execution policy hamper good ties.

Along with ambassador Grigson, Jokowi also accepted the credentials of Maria Lumen Banzon Isleta of the Philippines, Trevor Donald Matheson of New Zealand, Judit Nemeth-Pach of Hungary, Victor Luis Ng Chan of Panama and Valiollah Mohammadi Nasrabadi of Iran.

A Philippine national, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, is also on the list of death row inmates set to be executed.

"[During the discussion] I said [to them that diplomatic ties] should not be hampered by such matters of [...] such matters we all know about," Jokowi said, declining to mention the executions directly.

Ambassador Grigson, who was a former deputy secretary of the Australian department of foreign affairs and trade, served as Australian Ambassador to Thailand from 2008 to 2010 and chief of staff to the foreign affairs minister from 2007 to 2008.

He has also served as ambassador to Myanmar and was Australia's special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2014.

Philippine ambassador Isleta is a former ambassador to Laos.

Australia has made repeated calls for mercy on behalf of Sukumaran and Chan, but Indonesia has insisted on pressing ahead with the execution plan, turning down Canberra's offers of a prisoner swap and of bearing the cost of keeping the two Australians in prison for life.

Unlike Australia, the Philippine government has pledged not to criticise the death penalty leveled against Veloso.

Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors in January after Indonesia executed a group of six drug offenders that included citizens of those two countries.

Another Brazilian national, Rodrigo Gularte, was among those scheduled for executions along with Sukumaran, Chan and Veloso.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff rejected the credentials of Indonesian ambassador-designate Toto Riyanto in February following the government's firm stance on the execution plan.

Gularte's family has pleaded for clemency on the grounds of mental illness.

High-ranking Jakarta officials, including Attorney General M. Prasetyo, said on Wednesday that no executions of drug convicts would take place in the near future, as the country's judiciary was still processing appeals and case reviews for some of those set to be executed. Prasetyo said the government had established no deadline for the executions and also denied that the delay was due to foreign pressure.

On Thursday, Jokowi said he and the ambassadors discussed economic issues, including a potential co-operation with New Zealand on geothermal plant construction in Indonesia.

"The technology related to geothermal [energy] is not easy [to learn], and New Zealand is a master in the field of geothermal energy," Jokowi said. Last year, during the ASEAN Summit in Naypyitaw, he offered an investment partnership for the construction of geothermal plants to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Ambassador Matheson is a former ambassador to Italy.

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