Talks between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday will test how far the relationship between the two countries has healed after months of tension.
Abbott will visit Indonesia on his way to France for the D-Day commemorations. It is the first meeting between the two since revelations of Australian spying on the President, his wife and the President’s inner circle caused a crisis in relations.
The Indonesians suspended co-operation on many matters and recalled their ambassador. At the insistence of the Indonesians, the two countries have been negotiating a code of conduct on intelligence operations.
Abbott will meet Yudhoyono on the island of Batam.
His spokesman said today that after “their very cordial conversation last month, the Prime Minister will spend time with President Yudhoyono and continue the progress that has been made to resolve current issues and to strengthen the bilateral relationship”.
Abbott was due to meet Yudhoyono at a recent conference in Bali but cancelled the visit because an operation to turn back asylum seekers was under way at sea. At the time Abbott promised an early meeting. The turn-back policy has displeased the Indonesians but it has not been as serious a problem as the spying issue.
The Indonesian ambassador, Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, has been sent back to Canberra ahead of this week’s meeting.
Meanwhile the latest Newspoll in The Australian shows the government has not improved its bad post-budget position. It trails Labor in two party terms 46-54%, a rise of just 1 point in the Coalition’s vote from the previous post-budget poll.
The Coalition’s primary vote remains on 36%, while Labor is down a point to 37%. The Greens are on 12% (up 1) and the independents and minor parties including Clive Palmer’s PUP are on 15% (steady). While Abbott’s approval rose and Bill Shorten’s fell, Shorten retained a 10-point lead as better PM.