Indonesia police guarantee safety for Aussie tourists

Indonesia police guarantee safety for Aussie tourists
A foreign tourist walks past infront an Australian flag at Kuta beach in Denpasar on Indonesia's tourist island of Bali.

Amid tensions in the relationship between Indonesia and Australia over phone-tapping revelations, National Police chief Gen. Sutarman guaranteed the safety of all Australian tourists visiting Indonesia.

Sutarman also stressed that the police would protect Australian assets in the country.

"The safety of Australian tourists in Bali should be guaranteed. That's our responsibility," Sutarman told journalists during his visit to Bali Police headquarters in Denpasar on Friday.

Sutarman also gave his assurances that the Indonesian police were protecting all Australian assets in Indonesia. "The Indonesian police also have the responsibility to guard the embassy and consulate general offices. People are not allowed to take action themselves. We guarantee security. If needed, the Indonesian police will demand support from the Indonesian military," Sutarman said.

Separately, head of the tourism resources development board at the tourism and creative economy ministry, I Gde Pitana Brahmanda, assured that the row and tension between the two countries would not affect tourism."The spying will not affect people-to-people contact between Indonesians and Australians. So, Australians should not be worried about holidaying in Indonesia," Pitana stated.

"Based on our long history, relationships between the Indonesian government and Australian government have never affected individual relationships between Indonesians and Australians. We had bad relations related to Timor Leste, but Australians still visited Indonesia, especially Bali. What I want to say is the problem is only happening at the elite level," Pitana said.

As a nation, Pitana said, Indonesia should be proud of the firm stance shown by the Indonesian government. "Because it is related to our self esteem as a nation, as an independent and sovereign nation. But we should not be emotional because there is interdependence between countries. With Australia, our dependency is related to Australian tourists visiting Indonesia. There are also many Indonesian students studying in Australia, as well as Indonesians working in Australia," he said.

Meanwhile, Sutarman emphasised that policy related to spying had been conveyed clearly by the President. "The Indonesian police are also taking steps related to cooperation on people smuggling. We should suspend cooperation until there is a further decision from the government. The policy officially came into effect once the President conveyed his decision," he added.

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