4 Dec 2013

Bishop going to Jakarta for spy talks

7:41 am on 4 December 2013

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will travel to Jakarta this week for talks on a new code of conduct demanded by Indonesia after the 2009 spying scandal.

Ms Bishop is expected to meet Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa for preliminary discussions on a code of conduct which Indonesia insists is needed before relations between Jakarta and Canberra can return to normal.

Dr Natalegawa has confirmed the meeting would take place.

"I am anticipating some time this week the visit by Minister Bishop to Jakarta to continue our conversation we've been having ever since last week," Dr Natalegawa said in Bali on Tuesday.

AAP reports the meeting is expected to take place in Jakarta on Thursday.

Asked if Indonesia was expecting an apology, Dr Natalegawa said: "I'm going to receive Minister Bishop and we'll see what will come from that meeting."

Indonesia last month suspended military, intelligence gathering and people-smuggling co-operation after disclosures that Australia eavesdropped on the mobile phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle, in 2009.

The president has insisted that a code of conduct must contain protocols to ensure similar espionage activities do not occur again.

However, Dr Natalegawa has already warned that drafting a code of conduct was merely the first step on a long road back to normal diplomatic relations.

AAP reports he said last week that he must be assured by Ms Bishop that Australia was committed to signing up to a code of conduct, including protocols around spying.

"The roadmap for the (re-establishment) of bilateral relations is quite clear," Dr Natalegawa said in Bali on Tuesday.

The draft code of conduct, which would include guarantees around spying, would be inspected by Dr Yudhoyono who has also insisted it is signed by himself and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Further comment

''Despite the recent suspension by Indonesia of a number of bilateral defence activities, this Government remains committed to strengthening and deepening the defence relationship," Defence Minister David Johnston told an Australian Strategic Policy Institute dinner in Canberra on Tuesday.

"It will take some time for current issues in bilateral relations to be worked through, but they will be resolved in time," Senator Johnston said.

When that happens, Indonesia will find Australia to be a steady, reliable partner, willing to work closely on strengthening the defence and security relationship.

"As defence minister I will do my best to contribute to that by being a frequent visitor to Indonesia," he said.

"Building trust is essential and that can only be done through personal contact and mutual respect," Senator Johnston said.