Indonesia, Australia to Sign New Security Pact

Indonesia, Australia to Sign New Security Pact

SYDNEY ~ Australia and Indonesia have agreed to a new security treaty, officials said this week, after negotiations marred by a diplomatic row over Canberra’s granting of asylum to Papuan separatists.

The new pact includes a key Indonesian demand that Australia will not support separatist causes in the archipelago, and commits the two countries to working to wipe out terrorism.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said he and his Indonesian counterpart, Hassan Wirayuda would sign the treaty in Lombok on Monday.

“It’s a very significant step forward in the bilateral relationship,” Downer said.

“It is a sensible agreement, a realistic agreement and it is a sustainable agreement.”

The new treaty replaces an earlier pact torn up by Indonesia because of Australian support for the independence of East Timor.

It specifically rules out support by future Australian governments for other groups seeking independence from Indonesia, such as the Free Papua Movement.

The government was outraged in March after Australia granted visas to 42 asylum seekers from Papua, plunging relations between the countries to their lowest point in years.

Prime Minister John Howard told reporters on Wednesday the new pact was “a manifestation of the balance and maturity of the relationship.”

The treaty covers bilateral cooperation in 10 major areas, including defense, counterterrorism, law enforcement, weapons of mass destruction proliferation, intelligence sharing, maritime and aviation security, people-to-people links and emergency relief.

It also includes steps to battle transnational crimes such as people smuggling, drug trafficking, corruption, illegal fishing and money laundering.

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