Indonesia's envoy to Australia to return this month as tensions ease

Kanupriya Kapoor

By Kanupriya Kapoor

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's ambassador to Australia said on Saturday he was expected to return to his post by the end of this month, in a sign of easing diplomatic tension between the two countries.

Indonesia recalled its envoy and froze military and intelligence cooperation with Australia in November after reports that Canberra had spied on top Indonesian officials, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's wife.

Business leaders have raised concerns that a prolonged rift, the worst between the two countries since the turn of the century, would hurt trade relations, worth around $13 billion last year.

"I haven't been given an exact date but I'm expecting to go back to Australia by the last week of May," Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, Indonesia's ambassador to Australia, told Reuters by telephone.

Indonesia was "working very hard to mend our relationship with Australia" and the move was a "natural step in that process," he added.

It was not yet clear what prompted the decision.

Yudhoyono in December unveiled a six-point roadmap for relations to be restored, which included a code of conduct on intelligence matters.

(Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)