President Should Avoid Getting Entangled in Telephonic Diplomacy with Abbott


President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should not get entangled in telephonic diplomacy with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, stated Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law professor at the University of Indonesia.

He made the remark during a press release on Wednesday in connection with the media report on a telephonic conversation between Abbott and Yudhoyono on Tuesday.

Abbott called Yudhoyono to convey his regret that he will not be able to attend the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Conference in Bali, this week.

“President Yudhoyono should carefully respond to the telephonic call from Abbott, so that it is not detrimental to Indonesia’s national interests,” Hikmahanto emphasized.

During this time, the Australian border authorities intercepted two boats of asylum seekers who were then forced to board a single boat and were then pushed back into Indonesian waters.

According to Hikmahanto, the manner in which the Australian authorities handled the incident was the first of its kind.

As per an Australian media report, there was an indication that Abbott’s absence in the OGP conference in Bali was likely due to the incident.

But, Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa has voiced his opinion of having no objections to Abbott’s absence in the Bali conference this week.

“We have invited all the heads of state, including Australia, to the OGP conference. I am not aware of the reason behind the absence (of Abbott), only the Australian government can explain that,” stated the minister after attending the opening ceremony of the OGP Conference in Nusa Dua area.

Marty pointed out that there were several issues that Indonesia and Australia need to settle, including the asylum seekers who try to illegally enter Australia’s territory through Indonesian waters.

According to the ABC News report, President Yudhoyono in a telephonic conversation with Abbott expressed his desire to mend the diplomatic rift with Australia within the next few months.

But, Hikmahanto remarked that the strained relations between the two countries should not be a matter of immediate concern for Indonesia before Abbot lifts his unilateral policy of turning back the asylum seekers boats, which is detrimental to Indonesia.

“The president does not have to concern himself with mending the two countries’ strained relations as he will soon end his term in October this year,” he added.

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