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Indonesia confirms President Widodo's visit to Australia after defence spat

Sydney Morning Herald - February 8, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto has said that President Joko Widodo will visit Australia on February 26, which he said showed the relationship between Australia and Indonesia "was not shaky".

The confirmation of the presidential visit came as Australian Army chief Angus Campbell met with Indonesian military chief Gatot Nurmantyo after a furore earlier this year when material considered offensive by Indonesia was discovered at a Perth army base.

Lieutenant General Campbell flew to Jakarta to brief Indonesian military leaders on the findings of an internal investigation into the allegedly offensive material, which triggered a suspension of a language training program at Campbell Barracks last month.

General Gatot has voiced suspicions in the past about Australia trying to recruit Indonesian officers as spies and concerns about the US Marines that rotate through Darwin, pointing out the close proximity to West Papua and Indonesia's giant Masela gas block.

Asked if Mr Wiranto shared General Gatot's concerns about Australia, the chief security minister replied that the bilateral relationship had been friendly for a long time.

He said "ups and downs" in the relationship did not affect its strong foundation, which was based on common interests including economic interest and regional and global security.

This was evidenced by President Jokowi's planned visit to Australia on February 26 to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"It shows that the relationship between Indonesia and Australia is not shaky," Mr Wiranto said. "The relationship is well maintained. The fact that there are small incidents which are about comments made by some individuals should not shake up the strong relationship between the two countries.

Mr Wiranto said there were people in both Australia and Indonesia who were not really happy about the close relationship between the two countries or had a different view to the government.

"This is pretty normal in a bilateral relationship. It should not used as a reference to say the relationship is broken," he said. "That's why I appreciate the initiative of both our military commanders to solve this problem in the spirit of brotherhood."

Last month General Gatot described material found by an Indonesian language instructor at Campbell barracks as "too painful to explain".

He was upset over teaching on topics such as past Indonesian soldiers, East Timor, that West Papua should be independent and "Pancagila", a spoof of the state ideology of Pancasila which suggests that its five principles are crazy.

Mr Wiranto said Indonesia appreciated Australia conducting an investigation into the matter. "Obviously procedurally speaking we want to know the result of the investigation in order to make a decision whether or not we resume the (language training) program," he said. "I think we just have to wait for the outcome of the meeting."

Mr Wiranto said General Gatot would advise the Indonesian government about what steps should be taken. "Of course I will also follow this issue and will report to the President the outcome of the visit of the Australian Army Chief to Indonesia," he said.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesia-confirms-president-widodos-visit-to-australia-after-defence-spat-20170208-gu8ma0.html.

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