Australia’s Rudd Pledges Close Ties with Indonesia

JIMBARAN ~ Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared cooperation with Indonesia “critically important” for his country as he made his first foreign trip since last month’s election victory.

Rudd, who flew to Bali for the UN conference on climate change, was received by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at an open-air bungalow at a beachside luxury hotel.

Rudd, whose election victory on November 24 ended the 11-year rule of conservative John Howard, said he wanted to improve relations between Australia and its giant neighbor to the north.

The centre-left Labor leader said he considered it “a critically important relationship.”

He said he and Yudhoyono discussed “the importance of security cooperation, our work on counterterrorism, our work on border security questions.”

“This is excellent cooperation, which has come such a long way, and I look forward to that cooperation continuing into the future and broadening and deepening,” Rudd said.

Yudhoyono said he hoped for greater cooperation between the two countries, including on trade, investment, law enforcement and climate change.

“I look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Rudd to develop our strategic relations over the long term,” Yudhoyono said.

“Of course, from time to time there will be bilateral problems. That is normal as neighbors. But with a good spirit and as good neighbors, our two countries will be able to handle whatever problems come up,” he said.

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