Yudhoyono studying letter from Abbott

Yudhoyono studying letter from Abbott
Indonesia's foreign minister (left) with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (center). President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration amended its "negative investment list" of sectors in which foreign investors are either barred or restricted. The list, which has existed for decades, limits foreign involvement in areas deemed sensitive.

In a sign that a severe row between Indonesia and Australia may be easing, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is studying a letter from Prime Minister Tony Abbott over phone tapping revelations.

Dr Yudhoyono, who is in Bali on a working visit, did not comment on the letter on Saturday night. Neither his spokesman nor Mr Abbott has disclosed its contents.

Mr Abbott was cited by Bloomberg news agency as saying: "One of the fundamental tasks of my government is to ensure that our relationship with Indonesia goes from strength to strength."

Dr Yudhoyono had sent a strongly worded letter to Mr Abbott last Wednesday notifying him of a halt to all military, information and intelligence exchanges with Canberra, and calling for a code of conduct on security cooperation going forward.

The saga began last Monday when Australia's media reported disclosures from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that Australian intelligence had tapped the phones of Dr Yudhoyono, his wife and top Indonesian leaders in 2009.

The news drew swift protestations from Indonesian officials and politicians, and after the freeze in security ties, hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta last Thursday and Friday.

Australia has advised its citizens to maintain high levels of vigilance, as the dispute threatened to spill over into the business sector.

On Saturday, Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce announced he was postponing a scheduled visit to Indonesia this week, given the circumstances.

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