Boats a 'passing irritant' to Indonesia ties: Aussie PM Abbott
SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday described asylum-seekers arriving by boat from Indonesia as a "passing irritant" to the relationship, days before visiting the archipelago in his first foreign trip as premier.
Mr Abbott, who took power this month after winning national polls, has ordered a military-led border protection plan to deter boatpeople which will see vessels turned back when it is safe to do so.
The Australian leader denied the plan would jeopardise relations with northern neighbour Indonesia, which has been cool towards the scheme it has suggested infringes its sovereignty.
"The last thing I would ever want to do is anything that doesn't show the fullest possible respect for Indonesia's sovereignty," Mr Abbott told Fairfax Radio.