08:19 GMT30 October 2020
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    Jakarta suspended military cooperation with Canberra after an Indonesian special forces instructor had reportedly found an insulting material at the Australian Special Air Service Regiment base in Perth.

    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.

    An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Taiwanese military plane shows the view of Itu Aba, which the Taiwanese call Taiping, at the South China Sea, March 23, 2016
    © REUTERS / Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters/File Photo
    Indonesia suspended all military cooperation with Australia over "unresolved technical matters" the day before. Reports indicated that the move followed an incident at the Australian Special Air Service Regiment base in Perth, where an instructor from the Indonesian Kopassus special forces group, engaged in joint training with Australian special forces saw material insulting to the Indonesian military on display at the facility.

    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.


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