Australia PM welcomes conciliatory Indonesia

In this Monday, Sept 30, 2013 file photo, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, left, speaks to Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after a joint press conference following their meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta. Mr Abbott on Wed
In this Monday, Sept 30, 2013 file photo, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, left, speaks to Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after a joint press conference following their meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta. Mr Abbott on Wednesday said he expects the relationship with Indonesia to emerge stronger from a spying row and suggested a security round table to build trust. -- FILE PHOTO: AP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday said he expects the relationship with Indonesia to emerge stronger from a spying row and suggested a security round table to build trust.

Mr Abbott was responding after Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono struck a conciliatory tone late Tuesday after receiving a letter from the Australian leader aimed at limiting the fallout from the espionage allegations.

"It was a very warm statement. It was a statement that was very positive about Australia," Mr Abbott said of Mr Yudhoyono's reaction.

"What the president is proposing is that trusted envoys should meet in the next few days to resolve any outstanding issues in the relationship.

"I think that's a good way forward and I'm going to reflect on the statement over the next day or so and then we'll be responding more fully."

Claims that Australian spies tried to listen to the phones of Mr Yudhoyono, his wife and his ministers in 2009 surfaced last week and sparked one of the worst diplomatic crisis between the two countries in years.

Jakarta reacted furiously, ending cooperation on military exercises and in the key area of people-smuggling while recalling its ambassador from Canberra.

Indonesia was further infuriated by Mr Abbott's failure to apologise or offer what it saw as a clear explanation.

Mr Yudhoyono said Mr Abbott's letter contained a "commitment from the Australian PM that Australia will not do anything in the future that will disadvantage or disturb Indonesia". This, he said, was "a very important point".

He added that Mr Abbott supported his proposal to come up with "protocols" and a code of ethics to govern relations between the neighbours that were "clear, fair and abided to".

Mr Abbott called Mr Yudhoyono "a great president" and said a security round table was a move he favoured.

"What I'd like to see some time in the future is some sort of security round table where we are more open with each other, where we build even stronger relationships and trust," he said.

"I want Australia to be Indonesia's trusted partner, just as I want Indonesia to be our trusted partner." He added: "My objective is to ensure the relationship emerges stronger out of this than it previously was."