Indonesia, Australia leaders to hold make-up talks

Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The leaders of Indonesia and Australia will meet Wednesday for the first time since relations between the countries were damaged over spying allegations.

Outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will host Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the island of Batam, in a brief stopover for the Australian leader on his way to Europe.

The relationship is important for both countries, but comes with historical, cultural and political sensitivities that have brought periods of volatility.

In November, Indonesia downgraded relations with Canberra over reported Australian phone-tapping of Yudhoyono, his wife and eight Indonesian ministers and officials in 2009.

Indonesia said it would discuss "a code of conduct" on intelligence issues that it says will be needed before full ties can resume.

Australia needs Indonesian cooperation on stopping asylum seekers from the Middle East and South Asia from arriving on its shores.

Speaking before he left, Abbott said he hoped to soon reach some form of agreement on intelligence.

"There has been some rough patches in the relationship with Indonesia over the last nine months or so ... that this Government has to deal with and I am proposing to deal with that today," he said.

The spying allegations came from documents leaked by former National Security Agency operative Edward Snowden.

The breakdown in relations was the most serious since 1999, when Australia led a U.N. military force into the former Indonesian province of East Timor following a bloody independence ballot.

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