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Indonesia’s leader deplores Aussie PM statement

19 November 2013, 09:59

Jakarta - Indonesia's president stepped up the pressure on Australia on Tuesday over allegations its neighbour tapped calls from his phone, saying the action was deplorable and will lead to a review of co-operation agreements.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a Bahasa language tweet confirmed by his office said: "I also deplore the statement of the Australian Prime Minister who underestimates the wiretapping of Indonesia, without sense of guilt".

A later English tweet used the word regret instead of deplore, and said the statement "belittled this tapping matter on Indonesia, without any remorse".

Indonesia had already announced on Monday that it was recalling its ambassador from Australia following reports that Australian spies attempted to listen to the president's cellphone in 2009.

Official response

Australian Broadcasting and The Guardian reported that they had documents from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden showing that the top-secret Australian Signals Directorate also targeted the phones of Indonesian first lady Kristiani Herawati and eight other government ministers and officials.

Yudhoyono tweeted that Indonesia wanted an official response from Australia "that can be understood by the public".

"We will also review a number of bilateral co-operation agreements as a consequence of this hurtful action by Australia."

Indonesian presidential Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Teuku Faizasyah confirmed the tweets.

Abbott earlier on Tuesday declined to publicly comment in the diplomatic row for fear of inflaming the division in what he describes as Australia's most important bilateral relationship.

"Obviously today may not be the best day in that relationship, but nevertheless we do have a very good and strong relationship with Indonesia," Abbott told reporters.

Come clean

"It's in no one's interest to do anything or to say anything that would jeopardise that relationship and certainly I'm not going to," he added.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop  told reporters in India that she would not publicly discuss Australia's espionage activities.

"We are aware of their concerns, and we take them exceedingly seriously, but I'm not going to comment on intelligence matters," she said.

Indonesian Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema left the Australian capital Canberra on Tuesday morning for Jakarta, urging the Australian government to come clean on the spying episode.

"I think a good explanation will be the best way to ease the problem," Kesoema told reporters at Canberra airport.

The diplomatic spat is the second in less than a month between Indonesia and Australia stemming from Snowden's revelations linking Australia with US espionage.

- AP


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