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News Analysis: Indonesia spying crisis first major test for Australia's new gov't

English.news.cn   2013-11-23 09:33:11            

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa (1st L) and Indonesian Ambassador to Australia Nadjib Riphat Kesoema (2nd L) speak to the media before meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov, 20, 2013. Indonesia said Tuesday it is reviewing cooperation with Australia after an alleged spying case conducted by Australia against the country, marking Jakarta's latest response to the incident after recalling its ambassador in Canberra on Monday. (Xinhua/Zulkarnain)

by Margaret Fitzgerald

CANBERRA, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's refusal to apologize to Indonesia over spying revelations have set off a firestorm of anti-Australian rhetoric in Jakarta.

Australian media outlets reported earlier this week that Australian intelligence agencies wiretapped the mobile phone calls of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and other high-ranking officials.

As a protest, Indonesia has called back its ambassador to Indonesia and suspended its military and intelligence cooperations with Australia. Crucially, they have also suspended cooperation on asylum seekers, a politically charged issue in Australia.

Asylum seekers use Indonesia as a transit point to make the dangerous boat voyage to Australia. This month, Indonesia refused a request by Australia to take about 60 asylum seekers in a crippled boat. They have now suspended cooperation.

But Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has played down the effects of Australia's degraded relationship with Indonesia on the government's border protection policy.

"It has always been my view that a regional deterrence framework involves the region. Of course Indonesia is a very important partner," Morrison told reporters in Sydney Friday at his weekly Operation Sovereign Borders briefing.

Morrison confirmed to reporters that Operation Sovereign Borders was continuing, despite Indonesia's anger over the phone- tapping issue.

"Operation Sovereign Borders ... is designed to ensure the operation stands or falls on no single measure," he said.

"We have the ability to work through our chain of measures to ensure that whatever circumstances we face ... we are able to adapt and ensure the people smugglers will be frustrated."

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Editor: Yang Yi
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