1 Oct 2013

Abbott in Indonesia for whirlwind meeting

12:07 am on 1 October 2013

The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott met the Indonesian president and his cabinet ministers on Monday during a whirlwind trip to Jakarta.

Mr Abbott wants Australia's key foreign policy focus to be on its large neighbour Indonesia, but that government does not like his policy of turning back asylum seekers who are heading to Australia.

The ABC reports each leader was expected to stand their ground when they emerged from the talks.

Mr Abbott will argue that his policy to turn the boats back is a legitimate one, that Australia has the right to do that, and that it's the best way to stop the boats coming. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his ministry are not happy with that policy.

Indonesia says the new Coalition government's 'turn back the boats' policy could breach its sovereignty.

The ABC reports the Prime Minister's message to the president will be that Australia is open for business and he will take 20 prominent business leaders to Jakarta with him to push for stronger ties.

Australia's cattle trade will also have prominence during the talks, given past trouble with live exports, while Mr Abbott will also argue for greater education ties.

Mr Abbott will also make a plea for clemency for the Bali Nine, who are on death row for drug crimes.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who were to take part in discussions on trade and investment, are travelling with Mr Abbott.

AAP reports that before coming to power Mr Abbott indicated that all future Australian prime ministers should make Jakarta their first port of call overseas.