Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bali Nine executions: Australia's ambassador returns to Jakarta

The Guardian

Paul Grigson had been recalled from Indonesia for a little over a month and his return is part of a move to restore relations with the country.

Australia’s ambassador has returned to Jakarta about one month after he was recalled by the Abbott government in protest over the execution of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Paul Grigson returned to the Indonesian capital on Monday, the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said on Tuesday.

The gesture is part of a move to improve relations with Indonesia after the executions and tensions over boat turnbacks.

Grigson was the first Australian ambassador to Indonesia to be recalled, underlining the government’s concern about what the prime minister, Tony Abbott, described as the “cruel and unnecessary” executions.

Abbott also suspended ministerial visits over the executions. But it is not known when the top-level visits will resume.

In recent weeks Grigson has been involved in talks with the government on how to restore Indonesia-Australian relations, which have also been rocked by the policy of turning back asylum seeker boats.

Foreign policy analysts have suggested a good next step would be for Australia to set up a maritime security information centre in Jakarta and enter a new agreement on military and civilian agency ties.

Meanwhile, Indonesia has will send its ambassador, Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, rather than a minister to regional counter-terrorism talks in Australia amid continued tensions following the executions.

Six countries, including Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand will be represented by ministers at the two-day summit, to be launched by Tony Abbott in Sydney on Thursday.

It comes, too, after defence minister, Kevin Andrews, did not hold a bilateral meeting with his Indonesian counterpart at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue, although both attended the Asian security summit in Singapore at the end of May.

It is understood other Australian officials were not allowed to meet Indonesian delegates at the conference either, while “time constraints” prevented the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary, Peter Varghese, meeting with his Indonesian counterpart.

This article originally appeared 9 June in The Guardian.

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