Yudhoyono Orders Suspension of Some Cooperation Programs with Australia

JAKARTA ~

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the suspension of several cooperation programs with Australia following allegations that Australian intelligence agencies tapped the private cell phones of Indonesian state officials.

“I want them to be suspended until everything is clarified. We are unlikely to continue with the programs if we are not certain there has been no wire-tapping,” President Yudhoyono said after a meeting with Indonesian Ambassador to Australia Najib Riphat Kesoema here on Wednesday.

The cooperation programs that have been suspended include the exchange of intelligence information, joint military exercises and military operations to curb people smuggling, he said.

The President said he would also review other areas of cooperation with Australia.

In future, there must be a code of conduct and guiding principles to establish cooperation with Australia, he added.

“The protocol must be binding, clear and workable,” he noted.

President Yudhoyono said the Indonesian government was awaiting official clarification from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot about the alleged wire-tapping.

“If Australia also wants to maintain good ties with Indonesia, I hope there will official clarification from Australia,” he added.

Yudhoyono said he was disappointed by the news that the Australians had wire-tapped the phones of Indonesian officials, especially since both countries had agreed to upgrade their bilateral cooperation to strategic partnership in 2015.

“If someone states that intelligence information can achieve anything, then I ask, in which direction does the intelligence go? Why should they tap their friends and not their enemies? I consider the matter to be serious, and not merely from a legal point of view. I think neither Australian nor Indonesian law allows their intelligence agencies to wire-tap officials of other countries,” he noted.

Also present at the meeting were Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto, Minister/Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi, Head of State Intelligence Board Marciano Norman and Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam.

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