MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Australia has expressed regret over offense caused to the Indonesian military, which has led to the suspension of bilateral military ties, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Thursday.
"Certainly, we have indicated our regret that this occurred and that offense was taken. I think that’s appropriate when a significant counterpart raises their concerns with you," Payne said, as quoted by the News.com.au news website.
The minister stressed that the military should ensure that only culturally appropriate material is presented at joint facilities but did not comment on the nature of the offensive material.
According to details that emerged later, the "insulting" materials included texts about Indonesia's military leader Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, who was involved in the mass killings of up to a million communists in the 1960s. The late general, who is considered a national hero by the Indonesian state, also oversaw the joining of West Papua with Indonesia during the Act of Free Choice referendum, which is widely considered a sham.
In Thursday's comments, Payne said that Australia respects Indonesia's territorial integrity and will make sure that the inappropriate materials are replaced in due course.
"We, of course, in accord with the Lombok treaty, which is the treaty between Australia and Indonesia, recognise Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that is our firm and stated position," the Australian defense minister said.
The Kopassus unit has been training at the base in Perth for several years. Bilateral military cooperation has been improving since the 2006 Lombok Treaty, after which both sides committed to defense and counterterrorism cooperation. Relations somewhat soured in 2013, when documents revealed by Edward Snowden indicated that Australia was tapping Indonesia's then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's phone conversations.