Aussie PM Gillard to visit RI to boost ties

Aussie PM Gillard to visit RI to boost ties

, 23 October 2010


Indonesia will be one of only two countries that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will have visited since she was elected, says a minister.

“The Australian prime minister will visit Indonesia from Nov. 1 to 2. Indonesia will be [among] the first countries she visits,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told a press conference on Friday at the Foreign Ministry.

Gillard and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues, he said.

Gillard is the first Australian woman leader to occupy the country’s top post after she was sworn in on Sept. 14 as the 27th Australian prime minister.

Australian Embassy spokeswoman Jenny Dee said in a press statement that Gillard would travel to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta following the East Asian Summit (EAS) in Hanoi.

Vietnam will host the 17th ASEAN Summit and the East Asian Summit in Hanoi between Oct. 28 and 30.

Dee said from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, Gillard would hold meetings with her Malaysian counterpart, Prime Minister Najib Razak, and attend an official lunch while in Kuala Lumpur.

The visit to Malaysia would progress bilateral cooperation on a range of economic and security issues, including negotiations towards a free trade agreement and addressing regional security challenges such as counterterrorism and people smuggling, she said.

“On Nov. 1 and 2, the prime minister will visit Jakarta at the invitation of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,” she said.

“The prime minister and Yudhoyono will discuss ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship and increase cooperation across a number of economic, security, development and environmental challenges.”

Dee said Gillard’s visit followed Yudhoyono’s trip to Australia in March and followed the commitment made by leaders to meet annually in either Australia or Indonesia.

However, it was not clear whether the two would discuss the issue of refugees and people-trafficking.
In addition to refugees and illegal migration, counterterrorism, drug trafficking and the environment are issues upon which both countries have shared their interests many times.

Jakarta has hosted around 14,000 refugees from Afghanistan intercepted on their way to Australia.

Besides Gillard, United States President Barack Obama is again scheduled to visit Indonesia, where he spent some parts of his childhood, to meet Yudhoyono. Obama may visit Indonesia from Nov. 9 to 10.