World

Indonesia accepts Australia's apology over military row

JAKARTA Indonesia said it has accepted an Australian apology after teaching materials deemed offensive to Jakarta led to a partial suspension of ties.

The dispute erupted last month when the Indonesian armed forces announced it was putting military cooperation with Australia on hold after the materials were found at an Australian army base where some Indonesian forces were training.

The materials, which were spotted by a visiting Indonesian officer, contained comments deemed offensive on subjects including the Papua Region's independence movement and Indonesia's state ideology known as Pancasila.

After initially announcing a full freeze, Indonesia later insisted the suspension was partial and applied to the joint language training.

It was the latest row between the neighbours, whose relationship has been beset in recent years by disputes over Jakarta's execution of Australian drug smugglers and Canberra's hard-line policy of turning migrant boats back to Indonesia. To resolve the row, Australian army chief Angus Campbell visited Jakarta on Wednesday to meet with Indonesia's military chief Gatot Nurmantyo.

Mr Campbell offered an apology, saying Australia was suspending the Indonesian language education programme to make improvements, and insisted that all personnel involved in the incident had been punished, according to a statement from the Indonesian military released after the talks.

"Nurmantyo accepted the apology and noted that in an era of global competition, unity and friendship are a necessity," it said.

The partial military suspension will stay in place for now.

Earlier on Wednesday, Indonesian Security Minister Wiranto played down the row, insisting their relations were "very strong" and said Indonesian President JokoWidodo planned to visit Australia later this month.- AFP

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