Diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Australia have worsened after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott linked his country's previous provision of tsunami aid to the fate of two Australian convicted drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia.
Australians Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, are facing execution by firing squad after being convicted over a failed 2005 bid to traffic heroin from Indonesia's island of Bali into Australia.
The execution of the two men is due to take place soon, though Jakarta has not yet announced a date.
In his strongest language yet about the fate of the two men, Abbott told reporters on the Gold Coast in Australia on Wednesday that he was "sick to the stomach at the thought of what may happen to these unfortunate young Australians".
"Let's not forget that a few years ago when Indonesia was struck by the Indian Ocean tsunami, Australia sent a billion dollars’ worth of assistance; we sent a significant contingent of our armed forces to help in Indonesia with humanitarian relief and Australians lost their lives in that campaign to help Indonesia," Abbott said.
"I would say to the Indonesian people and the Indonesian Government: we in Australia are always there to help you and we hope that you might reciprocate in this way at this time.
"I don't want to prejudice the best possible relations with a very important friend and neighbour, but I've got to say that we can't just ignore this kind of thing if the perfectly reasonable representations that we are making to Indonesia are ignored by them."
'Threats' cause anger
Indonesia's foreign ministry reacted sharply to the comments, saying "no one responds well to threats", according to the Reuters news agency.
"I hope the statement made [by Abbott] does not reflect the true colours of Australians," Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir told reporters. " ... Threats are not part of diplomatic language and no one responds well to threats."
Indonesia on Tuesday postponed the transfer of five convicts - the two Australian drug offenders among them - to another prison for execution, prompted by medical concerns and families' requests for more time with the prisoners.
Australian politicians are united in opposing the execution of Chan and Sukumaran, who have worked to rehabilitate themselves in their decade behind bars.
But both have lost their appeals for clemency to new President Joko Widodo - whose government recently executed six convicted drug smugglers.
Source: Al Jazeera And Reuters