Indonesian envoy to return to Australia after spying row

Indonesian ambassador says ministers have agreed on his return to Canberra in a move seen as a thawing of relations following revelations of spying by Australia

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 2:35pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 2:35pm

Indonesia said on Saturday it would send its ambassador back to Australia this month in a bid to normalise relations after a spying row that has soured ties between the two countries.

Indonesia recalled its ambassador in November in the wake of reports that the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle had been targeted by Australian spies.

But tensions appeared to thaw as Indonesia announced its decision to return its envoy following a phone conversation between Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier this week.

“The president and the foreign minister have thought for a while about my returning to Canberra and we plan that I return this May,” the ambassador, Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, told reporters.

“As we can see the president had spoken to the prime minister and indeed there are things deemed necessary for me to return to Canberra,” he added.

Abbott called Yudhoyono to express his regret after axing a trip to Bali for a conference. The call was viewed as a bid to thaw ties damaged by Canberra’s border protection policies and the spying row.

Jakarta had reacted furiously to the news of the spying, halting co-operation in key areas including defence and people-smuggling.

Tensions were further inflamed by Canberra’s policy of turning back some asylum-seekers making their way to Australia by boat from Indonesia.