Australian Prime Minister John Howard signalled a hands-off policy on Indonesian domestic affairs yesterday, stressing instead the economic side of the relationship between the two countries. Mr Howard arrived in Indonesia for a three-day visit on Monday, his first to Indonesia since his Government came to power six months ago. The visit is widely seen as a crucial test of his ability as a statesman. But Indonesian analysts were sceptical yesterday about whether he could match the performance of his predecessor, former prime minister Paul Keating, who is widely credited with repairing the once-troubled ties between the two neighbours. Asked yesterday for his views on Indonesia's embattled pro-democracy movement and the plight of ousted opposition party leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, Mr Howard said he wanted to avoid becoming involved in domestic political debate. 'I think it's important to Australians that this be a visit which allows both President Suharto and myself to re-affirm the importance of the relationship,' he said. But he added: 'That doesn't mean to say one doesn't have views and that doesn't mean . . . that you never say something about what happens inside another country.' Ms Megawati, the former chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party, was ousted by a government-backed rebel party congress in June. Mr Howard's visit, which ends today, was earlier scheduled for late July. It was postponed after rioting in Jakarta on July 27.