President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has assigned Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to play a leading role in Indonesia-Australia discussions on sensitive issues in a bid to repair the two countries’ relationship, which has been severely damaged by the alleged spying by Australian intelligence.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, Marty confirmed he has been assigned by the President to undertake the crucial tasks amid the tense Jakarta-Canberra ties, which has plunged to a record-low since the late 1990s.
“I had a meeting with the President in Bali on the sidelines of the WTO [World Trade Organization’s] Foreign Minister Meeting, yesterday, where I was instructed [to play the role],” Marty said.
The President previously said in a statement that the foreign minister or a special envoy might lead Indonesia’s part in the discussion.
Canberra has assigned Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to lead Australia’s part in the discussion.
Julie is heading to Jakarta where Marty and she will have a much-anticipated meeting on Indonesia-Australia bilateral relations on Thursday, the first bilateral meeting at the ministerial level after the revelation of the spying operations.
Indonesia has decided to freeze cooperation on intelligence sharing, military exercises, and patrols for boat people, after some media outlets last month released a “top-secret” document that said Australian intelligence agency had tapped the phones of Yudhoyono, his wife, and some Cabinet members in 2009.