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Tony Abbott visits Jakarta
Political Editor Catherine McGrath reports on Tony Abbott's first trip overseas, to Jakarta.

Earlier this week Australia's new Prime Minister made his first trip overseas. And despite low expectations, Tony Abbott managed to strengthen ties with Jakarta as well as to improve the prospects of bilateral cooperation on asylum seekers.

Mr Abbott did give Jakarta what it wanted as well, proclaiming rock solid support for Indonesian sovereignty particularly over West Papua and softened his tone on Australia's border protection policies.

From Canberra, political editor Catherine McGrath reports.
Transcript
JIM MIDDLETON, PRESENTER : Earlier this week Australia's new Prime Minister made his first trip overseas. And despite low expectations, Tony Abbott managed to strengthen ties with Jakarta as well as to improve the prospects of bilateral cooperation on asylum seekers.

Mr Abbott did give Jakarta what it wanted as well, proclaiming rock solid support for Indonesian sovereignty particularly over West Papua and softened his tone on Australia's border protection policies.

From Canberra, political editor Catherine McGrath reports.


CATHERINE MCGRATH, REPORTER: For a politician who cut his teeth in the hard grind of domestic politics an has been a key to Australia remaining a constitutional monarchy it's been a big seven days for Tony Abbott as he beginning to step on to the global stage as Australia's 28th PM.


SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, PRESIDENT OF INDONESIA (TRANSLATION): Today Indonesia has the honour to receive the visit of His Excellency Prime Minister of Australia, His Excellency Mr Tony Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Thank you so much, president. This has been a marvellous dialogue today, a very warm dialogue, a very constructive one.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: His trip and comments were well received.

YULI ISMARTONO, EXEC. EDITOR TEMPO MAGAZINE: Prime Minister Abbott I think made quite a positive impact on everyone here. He seemed to have followed the cultural niceties of Indonesia.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: By midweek, Prime Minister Abbott was back in Australia from Jakarta and meeting New Zealand's Prime Minister in Canberra.

TONY ABBOTT: Thank you for making the effort to come and visit Australia at this time.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: And his next international event takes him back to Indonesia and Bali for the APEC leaders summit.

Going into the meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, expectations weren't high. The country had rejected elements of Australia's border protection policies, in a diplomatic rebuff.

But the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who led a business delegation of 20 key industry leader, appeared a conciliatory figure. He was on a mission to enhance ties to broaden the relationship and try to patch up differences.

HAL HILL, ANU: If Mr Abbott had gone to Indonesia with a primary emphasis on the movement refugees, I think he would have got a cold reception.

TONY ABBOTT: There is a chance here for each of us to play to our strengths.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: In Jakarta he spoke about the importance of the two countries working together and about Australia's view that Indonesia has a great future ahead of it.

TONY ABBOTT: There should be an urgency, a real urgency to building this relationship while there's still so much that Australia has to give and that Indonesia is keen to receive.

YULI ISMARTONO: During his campaign, and most recently when he was talking about his policy of sovereign border, it seemed quite aggressive. And yet there was no aggressiveness when he was in Indonesia.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: Indonesia's President made it clear that the issue of sovereignty and the subject of West Papua is still an issue and he was looking for key signals from Australia of its position.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO (TRANSLATION): One please please remember Papua is an integral part of Indonesia, it is part of our territorial integrity and our sovereignty.

TONY ABBOTT: I do want to stress publicly as well as privately Mr President, Australia's total respect for Indonesia's sovereignty, a total respect for Indonesia's territorial integrity. The Government of Australia takes a very dim view, a very dim view indeed of anyone seeking to use our country as a platform for grandstanding against Indonesia.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: On border security, Australia got what it wanted, an agreement to further bilateral cooperation, and for his part PM Abbott was playing down the earlier policy to buying fishing boats in Indonesia and to tow boats back to Indonesian ports. So the trip was a strong beginning but there's more work to do.

For now, it's off to APEC where Prime Minister Abbott will immediate other world leaders in the meeting of the Asia Pacific grouping hosted by Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

It's a huge event for the President as he moves towards the end of his term.
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