Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has criticised Indonesia for suspending cooperation to solve the people-smuggling problem between both nations over a phone-tapping spat.
Abbott called Jakarta’s actions “singularly unhelpful” on Sunday and urged the neighbouring country to resume cooperation on the issue of asylum-seekers.
“There’s no doubt that the suspension of cooperation by the Indonesian authorities has been unhelpful, it’s been singularly unhelpful,” Abbott told reporters.
“Given that people-smuggling is a crime in Indonesia, just as it’s a crime in Australia, I think it’s high time that that cooperation was resumed,” he said.
Indonesia stopped working with Australia on the problem of people smuggling last month, following intelligence leaks from fugitive Edward Snowden revealed that Australia had tried to bug the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and family members in 2009.
This revelation drove a nail between the two strategic allies and sparked one of the worst diplomatic crises in years as Indonesia suspended military and immigration collaboration.
People-smuggling is a politically sensitive issue in Australia and Abbott made promises before his September victory to stop boats filled with asylum-seekers from entering the country.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop travelled to Jakarta last week to smooth ties after the espionage row, expressed “regret” and agreed to a bilateral code of conduct to restore trust.
Bishop’s counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, said cooperation between the nations would resume when the code of conduct was finalised.
Hundreds of asylum-seekers have died attempting to make the perilous voyage from Indonesia to Australia on rickety, overcrowded boats.