Indonesia: Australian Foreign Minister to meet Indonesian, Timor Leste FMs to discuss “Balibo 5” case

Updated On: Sep 22, 2009

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he planned to meet with his Indonesian and Timor Leste counterparts on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this week.

In a press statement received by ANTARA here on Monday, Smith said various regional issues of common concern would be discussed at the meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda and Timor Leste Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa, which would be part of his agenda while in New York from September 19 to 26.

This decision comes on the heels of a recent decision of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to investigate the death of five Australian journalists in Balibo, East Timor, in 1975.

The AFP`s decision to reinvestigate the so-called "Balibo Five" case has startled the Indonesian government which considers the case as closed years ago.

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the new probe was contrary to the best interests of relations with Australia, which have improved markedly in recent years.

"Frankly, this of course goes against our desire to look to the future. The desire of Indonesia and East Timor is to end all those things that harm our relationship, through our decision together to form the CTF (Commission of Truth and Friendship)," Yudhoyono said on Thursday.

"This is important, so the good or even great relationship between Indonesia and Australia isn't harmed by problems that have arisen because of a mindset or way of thinking that, in our opinion, is inaccurate," he said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has shrugged off the warning from Indonesia's president that a war-crimes probe into the 1975 killings of five journalists could damage ties.

Police investigators can ask Australia's chief prosecutor to consider laying war crimes charges if enough evidence comes to light.

The 2007 coroner blamed members of Indonesia's special forces for the killings, including Yunus Yosfiah, who rose to become the country's information minister in the late 1990s.

East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta, a rebel leader at the time who investigated the deaths, said in July that at least one of the five victims was "brutally, brutally tortured".


Antara News, Australian FM to meet RI, Timor Leste counterparts, 21 Sept 2009, http://www.antara.co.id/en/news/1253546926/alian-fm-to-meet-ri-timor-les...

Channel News Asia, Australian PM dismisses Indonesia war-crimes row, 11 Sept 2009,http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1004399/1/.h...

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