SBY Farewells Rudd, Welcomes New Australian PM

JAKARTA

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono welcomed new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday after she ousted Kevin Rudd in a party leadership challenge.

“President Yudhoyono has known new Prime Minister Julia Gillard since he visited Australia (in March). The president will continue to work with the new prime minister,” Yudhoyono’s spokesman told reporters.

“We’re arranging a telephone conversation between the president and the prime minister.”

As he left Indonesia to attend a G20 summit in Canada, the president known as “SBY” also spoke of his friendship with Rudd.

“President Yudhoyono said in a meeting today that he really appreciated the service and friendship that Kevin Rudd has shown Indonesia in building the Australia-Indonesia bilateral relationship,” a spokesman said.

Australia’s first female leader was elected unopposed in a Labor Party ballot early Thursday after factional support swung away from Rudd, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat.

Indonesia-Australia ties have been fraught with difficulties over the years but both neighbours see the relationship as strategic, with implications for regional security and economic development.

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