Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Indonesia will play an increasingly important role in global affairs and predicts his government will be able to work with whoever is elected the new president of the vast archipelago.
As counting continues in the election and Joko Widodo firms as the likely victor over Prabowo Subianto, a cautious Mr Abbott praised both men as ”competent, credible individuals who will do their best to build a better and stronger nation”.
The Prime Minister steered clear of the controversial hardline asylum seeker policies enacted by his government.
”Both of them [Mr Joko and Mr Subianto] are on the record as wanting to maintain good and strong relations with Australia. I’m confident we will always be able to work well with the Indonesian president,” he said.
”Whoever ultimately emerges, we will be able to work with them.”
Asked if China’s inclusion of waters near Indonesia’s Natuna Islands in the so-called ”nine-dash line”, which denotes that nation’s territorial claims, could draw Indonesia into deeper regional engagement with Japan, the United States and Australia, Mr Abbott chose his words carefully.
”I think Indonesia will play a larger part in regional and world affairs and I think Indonesian will be very keen to try to ensure that all countries operate in accordance with the precepts of international law,” he said.
After the visit by Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, Mr Abbott also said it was false to suggest Australia must choose between lining itself up with China or the US and Japan.
He also endorsed the tough stance of his deputy, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who told Fairfax on Wednesday that an increasingly strident China did not respect weakness.
”No countries respect weakness. I mean East Timor, let alone China, doesn’t respect weakness so I think she was just stating a commonsense position,” he said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.