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Indonesia suspends military cooperation with Australia

January 4, 2017

Jakarta has cut all military ties with Australia pending the resolution of "technical matters." Media reports have said that offensive material was found at an Australian army base.

Indonesien Weibliche Soldaten
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Zamroni

Indonesia confirmed it had cut cooperation with Australia's military on Wednesday. Jakarta said "technical reasons" were behind the rift, though media reports claimed that material offensive to the Indonesian army had been found at an Australian base.

"All forms of cooperation have been suspended," said Major General Wuryanto, an spokesman for the Indonesian army. "There are technical matters that need to be discussed."

Indonesian newspaper Kompas reported that officials in Jakarta had sent a message to their Australian counterparts at the end of December officially suspending joint operations. The move came after offensive material was reportedly found by an Indonesian special forces training officer at Campbell Barracks near the Australian city of Perth.

The material allegedly insults "Pancasila," the founding principles of Indonesia - belief in god, the unity of Indonesia, social justice and democracy.

Strained ties

This would not be the first time relations between Jakarta and Canberra were tested. In 1999, Australia ended military cooperation in protest over rights abuses in East Timor. Indonesia has also cut ties once before, in 2013, over revelations that Australian spies had tapped then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's phone.

Cooperation between the Asia-Pacific neighbors is crucial, however, for larger operations. After a 2002 attack on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, Canberra has said it is essential for the two countries to work together on counterterrorism.

President Joko Widodo had scheduled a visit to Australia in an effort to improve relations, but called off the trip due to unrest in Jakarta.

es/kms (AFP, Reuters)