New Australian foreign minister firm on Indonesia refugee plans
SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop said on Sunday that the new conservative government would work with Indonesia "where we need to" but it was not seeking permission to implement controversial refugee policies.
Ms Bishop, prime minister-elect Tony Abbott's nominee for top diplomat, said Australia respected Indonesia's sovereignty but it would forge ahead with sensitive plans to combat people-smuggling that were met with a cool response in the South-east Asian nation during the election campaign.
Mr Abbott plans to tow back asylum-seeker boats from Indonesia in a military response codenamed Operation Sovereign Borders, while buying up fishing boats to keep them from the hands of people-smugglers, embedding Australian police in villages and paying locals for intelligence.
Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Jakarta would reject the plans as not in the spirit of partnership between the two countries last week, adding that the issue would be a top priority for talks with Mr Abbott ahead of next month's Apec summit.