Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tony Abbott visits PNG


Prime Minister Tony Abbott has flown to Indonesia to attend tomorrow's presidential inauguration of Joko Widodo in Jakarta.

On the way, Mr Abbott made an unexpected visit to Papua New Guinea.

The ABC understands Mr Abbott met PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill today and discussed the threat of the Ebola virus as well as resettling asylum seekers.

There have been problems with the Government's asylum seeker arrangements in PNG but Mr O'Neill has apparently said the resettlements will begin soon.

On Monday Joko Widodo will be sworn in as Indonesia's next president, taking over from Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who has been in the job since 2004.

Mr Abbott said in a video statement that Mr Widodo's inauguration was an important event for Australia as "Indonesia is a hugely important neighbour".

"It has the world's largest Muslim population, it is the world's third largest democracy and, along with India, it's the emerging democratic superpower of Asia," he said.

"Almost one million Australians visit Indonesia, including Bali, every year and over 17,000 Indonesian students study here in Australia each year."

Mr Abbott said he is looking to strengthen Australia's social and economic ties with the nation.

"On present trends, Indonesia will be the fourth biggest economy in the world by mid-century. This is why our foreign policy needs a Jakarta focus rather than a Geneva one," he said.

"There's the New Colombo Plan, which will see more young Australians study in Indonesia.

"There's the new Australia Indonesia Centre at Monash University which promotes greater understanding of Indonesia and its importance to us.

"And we have restored the live cattle trade which is now back to its pre-cancellation peak."

The Prime Minister said he is looking forward to meeting the new Indonesian president.

"The outgoing president, president Yudhoyono, has been a great friend of Australia. He has been a friend to successive Australian prime ministers since John Howard," he said.

"[Mr Widodo] now takes office with enormous goodwill - in his own country and in ours. Australia wants the new president to succeed."

Mr Widodo will come to office at a time when diplomatic tensions with Australia have settled, with a new code of conduct is in place after a recent spying scandal.

The issue of clemency for the Bali Nine drug smugglers however remains unresolved, with Dr Yudhoyono leaving the matter to his successor.

No comments:

Post a Comment