Malcolm Turnbull to visit Indonesia next week

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull arrive for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Valletta, Malta November 27, 2015. Reuters/Andrew Winning

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to visit Indonesia next week. The trip comes after President Joko Widodo's weekend trip to Australia, in which the two leaders have discussed about restoring military cooperation and trade deals.

Widodo, more popularly known as President Jokowi, announced that Turnbull will visit his country to attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association leadership summit. The event will be held in Jakarta from March 5 to 7.

The association is composed of 21 members. Several maritime security issues such as people smuggling, transnational crime, illegal fishing and economic ties are expected to be discussed.

The Australian reports that trade minister Steve Ciobo will also fly to Jakarta. He will reportedly lead a business delegation of 120 Australian companies from March 6-10. The minister said the visit would focus on opportunities for tourism, financial services, technology, water, sustainable urban design and agribusiness supply chains.

The news of Turnbull’s visit to Indonesia came after Widodo’s two-day visit in the Land Down Under. The Indonesian president and his wife, Iriana, dined with Turnbull in his Point Piper mansion and strolled with him through the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney on Sunday, Feb 26.

Widodo said he and his Australian counterpart have talked about bilateral concerns. "We have actually covered all of our bilateral issues on our dinner and morning walk," he said at a joint press conference.

The two leaders have declared in a joint statement the full restoration of military co-operation between Australia and Israel after it was suspended in January following an alleged discovery of curriculum materials at a Perth army base that Indonesia found offensive.

Turnbull and Widodo also agreed that negotiations on a free trade deal will be finalised before the year ends.  Indonesia promises to lower its tariff on Australian sugar while the latter eliminates tariffs on pesticides and herbicides coming from the other country.

Associate Professor Greg Fealy from the Australian National University believes that Turnbull and Widodo have a close personal relationship, which has been a primary reason for the Indonesian president’s visit to Australia. "It looks very much as if Malcolm Turnbull wants to build on that and keep momentum going and I think that's a good thing,” he said.

The professor also notes that Widodo did not really show much interest in Australia before Turnbull seats as the country’s leader. Fealy praises the way Turnbull managed Widodo’s visit, saying it was skilful.

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