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Friday, February 08, 2008

Australia-Indonesia security agreement

New security deal between Australia and Indonesia reported here:
A new security pact between Australia and Indonesia came into force Thursday at a ceremony in Perth attended by the foreign ministers of the at-times testy neighbours.

Known as the Lombok Treaty, the agreement replaces an earlier pact torn up by Indonesia eight years ago over Australian support for the independence of East Timor.

The new agreement includes a key Indonesian demand that Australia will not support separatist causes in its giant neighbour's sprawling archipelago.

"The treaty provides a strong overarching framework for strengthening security cooperation," Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement.

It covers "greater collaboration in areas such as defence, law enforcement, counter-terrorism, maritime security and emergency preparedness," he said after talks with his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda.

The treaty was signed on the Indonesian island of Lombok in November 2006 but needed to be ratified by both parliaments.

The signing of the agreement came hard on the heels of a diplomatic row over Australia's granting of asylum to 43 Papuan separatists which saw relations plunge to their lowest level for years.

Critics said then they feared the new pact could see Australia aiding repression of independence activists from the restive Indonesian province, a charge rejected by the government.

Smith said the two countries also agreed to renew for a further three years a separate agreement on combating terrorism and to institute new counter-terrorism consultations.

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