JAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) — Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Thursday (January 5) that the country’s relations with Australia remained “good”, despite an earlier announcement that military cooperation had been suspended between the two countries.
“Our relationship with Australia remains in good condition, the problem has to be clarified first at the operational level so the situation does not heat up,” Widodo told reporters in Jakarta, adding that his defence minister and military chief had been asked to investigate.
Indonesia’s security minister also said on Thursday that the military had not suspended all cooperation with Australia, contradicting the earlier statement.
“The military chief has announced the temporary halt of cooperation in language training, not all military cooperation. It is different,” Wiranto said.
Indonesia and Australia have sought to calm tensions since Indonesia’s military said it had suspended ties because of “insulting” teaching material found at an Australian base that questioned Jakarta’s sovereignty in Papua province.
Papua, where a separatist movement has simmered for decades, is a sensitive issue for Indonesia, which took over the former Dutch colony after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969
Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne has expressed regrets and promised a thorough investigation of the row, which has highlighted the sometimes prickly relationship between the neighbours.
Indonesia most recently suspended military ties in 2013 over revelations that Australian spies had tapped the mobile telephone of then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.