Australia, Indonesia boost security, defense ties

By Bagus BT Saragih | Source: ANN
The second annual “2+2” dialogue between the defense and foreign ministers of Australia and Indonesia on Wednesday reaffirmed the good, comprehensive and strategic cooperation, particularly in the defense and military sectors, between the two neighbouring countries.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the meeting managed to reflect the broad nature of Australian-Indonesia relations, which had seen so many ups and downs in the past years.

“It was a very constructive and useful discussion. We exchanged views on regional and global issues, such as Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, among other things,” Natalegawa told a joint press conference after the meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

Topics discussed spanned from peacekeeping operations, disaster relief, maritime joint patrols, army and navy joint operations, counter-terrorism, as well as tackling people smuggling and human trafficking.

“Indonesia and Australia has a comprehensive and strategic partnership that is good at every level. Our defense relationship and cooperation have never been stronger,” Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said. “There’s no country in the region more important to Australia than Indonesia.”

The inaugural 2+2 meeting was held in Canberra in March, 2012.

In the meeting, Australia also offered to sell Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules transport aircraft at a bargain price, less than the six previously reported by the Indonesian Military (TNI), including “a simulator and some spare parts,” Carr said.

This would be the second deal after Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and his Australian counterpart, Stephen Smith, signed agreements on defense cooperation in Darwin, Australia, last year, which included a grant of four refurbished C-130Hs.

“The discussion between Smith and I concerned defense to defense cooperation, particularly the implementation of the Lombok Treaty. We also discussed joint exercises, which include [Army Special Forces], as well as other army-to-army and navy-to-navy cooperation,” Yusgiantoro said.

The Lombok Treaty, which came into effect in February 2008, provides a modern framework for intensified bilateral cooperation across all areas of defense, law enforcement, counter-terrorism, maritime security and humanitarian and disaster relief.

In September 2012, Yusgiantoro and Smith signed a defense cooperation arrangement, providing a formal structure for practical defense cooperation under the Lombok Treaty.

In 2012, Indonesia and Australia engaged in a coordinated maritime patrol of the two countries’ shared maritime borders, while the Indonesian Air Force participated in Exercise Pitch Black for the first time.

In a statement, Carr said that Australia also offered cooperation in officer- and English-language training, with some 160 positions in Australia to be offered to Indonesian military personnel this year under the bilateral Defense Cooperation Program.

After the meeting, Carr and Smith paid a courtesy call to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

According to Natalegawa, Yudhoyono expressed his concern over the latest situation in the Korean Peninsula before his Australian guests.

Carr was also slated to deliver a speech to the Indonesia-Australia Defense Alumni Association.