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Indonesia’s military threat ‘not true’

January 5, 201710:39pm

Indonesia ties should be restored soon: Payne3:27

Defence Minister Maris Payne is hopeful Indonesia will restore military relations after an investigation.

  • January 5th 2017
  • 12 hours ago
  • /video/video.news.com.au/News/

Australia’s Defence Minister Marise Payne has expressed regret for the cultural misunderstanding. Picture: Peter Parks/AFP

CHARLES MIRANDANews Corp Australia Network

INDONESIA’S Chief Security Minister General Wiranto says the postponing of military co-operation with Australia relates only to the Australian special forces language training program and not to all military ties.

In a statement released in Jakarta late Thursday General Wiranto said reports that all military co-operation had been severed as a result of the spat over material in Australia deemed offensive to Indonesia were not true.

It comes as Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo, said Australia and Indonesia had agreed not to meddle in internal affairs of either country and as the Indonesian Military Chief, General Gatot Nurmantyo, said some of the offensive material taught in Australia was too hurtful to repeat. He said it related to Indonesian military roles in East Timor and Papua and a document which had changed the Pancasila, Indonesia’s guiding principals to Pancagila. Gila is an offensive term meaning crazy.

Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, General Gatot Nurmantyo has never hidden his dislike of Australia, claiming we planned to steal his officers. Picture: Donal Husni via Getty Images

Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, General Gatot Nurmantyo has never hidden his dislike of Australia, claiming we planned to steal his officers. Picture: Donal Husni via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

And Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne has denied it was trying to recruit Indonesia’s elite special forces troops as spies as tensions with the notoriously sensitive northern neighbour continue to simmer.

Defence Minister Marise Payne yesterday moved to quell tensions, publicly expressing regret for training material and other “cultural” issues that led to Indonesia suspending its language training

co-operation.

It was revealed that the offensive material was contained in newspaper and online articles used within the training course at Perth.

Indonesia is particularly sensitive about the topic of West Papua’s independence. Picture: Tatan Syuflana/AP

Indonesia is particularly sensitive about the topic of West Papua’s independence. Picture: Tatan Syuflana/APSource:AP

Indonesia’s Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said his counterpart, Senator Payne, had Thursday sent him a letter of apology, expressing regret for the incident which she had assured him did not reflect Australian defence and military policy. He said the language school principal in Perth had been temporarily suspended pending a thorough investigation and would be sanctioned heavily.

“So the Defence Minister has offered an apology and from me, I have accepted the apology … The Defence Minister called me repeatedly offering her regrets. The Minister is a woman and she is usually cheerful but she is so sad now, expressing her deepest regret … It means she regrets it so we have to respect this and appreciate their (Australian) feelings,” Mr Ryacudu said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (C) and Army Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo (L). The government went over the army chief’s head by backing down on the situation on Thursday.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (C) and Army Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo (L). The government went over the army chief’s head by backing down on the situation on Thursday.Source:AFP

He said such an incident should never have occurred “because as friendly countries, we are not supposed to let this kind of incident ruin our friendship … to maintain this friendship we are not

supposed to touch sensitive matters or to incite hatred against any country”.

Mr Ryacudu said the offensive materials related mostly to the issue of Papua and the PKI, the now defunct Indonesian communist party and had its genesis when an Indonesian Special Forces language instructor at the language school at Campbell Base in Perth found learning materials

which “discredited Indonesia, especially the Indonesian military and Pancasila, Indonesia’s guiding principals.

President Widodo said Australia and Indonesia should keep out of each other’s business. Picture: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

President Widodo said Australia and Indonesia should keep out of each other’s business. Picture: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“According to the explanation given by the Australian Armed Forces Commander the materials came from articles, newspapers and online media, provided by an Australian first officer, who turned those publications into learning materials at the school,” Mr Ryacudu said.

Late on Thursday, Indonesia’s Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, General Wiranto, issued a statement to clarify the position, saying that not all military co-operation had been suspended as a result.

Senior politicians, including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have apologised over the incident. Picture: Dita Alangkara/AP

Senior politicians, including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have apologised over the incident. Picture: Dita Alangkara/APSource:AFP

“It is true that there is a step from Indonesian Military Commander to suspend activity on language training co-operation program in Australia’s special force, because there was a case happened that offended the honour of our nation in November 2016,” General Wiranto said.

“It means, not a suspension of the whole defense co-operation, as published in many media recently. The co-operation suspension is only temporary, and will be continued again after Australia conducted settlement steps over the case.”

Indonesian Kopassus commandos soldiers had upcoming training exercises with Australian military. Picture: Adek Berry/AFP

Indonesian Kopassus commandos soldiers had upcoming training exercises with Australian military. Picture: Adek Berry/AFPSource:AFP

Earlier President Joko Widodo said he had received a report on the case from the TNI Commander and the Defence Minister and he had ordered those two men to handle the matter.

“We have agreed on mutual respect and not to interfere in each other’s domestic business … I think our relations with Australia are still in good condition,” President Widodo said, adding that it was being dealt with at an operational level.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last night welcomed Mr Widodo’s comments about “the bilateral relationship between Australia and Indonesia and his desire to resolve quickly (the) current issues”.

The PM said both he and his Indonesian counterpart were committed to a relationship between their nations “based on common interests and mutual respect”.

“I look forward to this matter being resolved as soon as possible,” he said.

“I acknowledge and value President Widodo’s commitment to the strategic partnership between our two countries and value our personal friendship.”

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