The Third Australia-Indonesia 2+2 meeting in Sydney for strengthening bilateral relationship between the two nations, was held yesterday. The Australia-Indonesia relationship had strained badly after the executions of drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and claims that Australian officials had paid an asylum seeker boat to turn back to Indonesian waters. However, after the bilateral talks, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne have assured that the relations between the countries are in a good shape.

The talks come right after Indonesian police foiled New Year terror attacks in Jakarta. Although Ms. Bishop refused to divulge whether Australia provided intelligence for the arrests, Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Ms. Payne pointed out that regional peace and stability are of primary importance. Both said the countries must work cooperatively as neighbours to ensure both. Ms. Retno said that one can choose a friend but being neighbours is destiny, reports Sky News.

“We are making the most of this very productive destiny that we have together, the shared destiny of being neighbours and today's meeting has gone a great deal, distance to reinforce,” Ms. Retno added.

The major areas of focus were counter-terrorism, strengthening economic ties and de-radicalisation and intelligence sharing. The countries signed an agreement to co-ordinate counter-terrorism efforts and agreed to renew their defence cooperation agreement.

According to ABC News, West Papua was also tabled as part of the general discussion on regional issues. Indonesia Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu had earlier defended Indonesia’s claim to West Papua also stating that Indonesia does not want other countries to get involved in the issue.

According to Mr. Ryacudu, the major threats facing the region are refugee hassles, drug smuggling, disease, natural disaster and terrorism.

After meeting with Ms. Marsudi, Ms. Bishop said that the issue of asylum seekers arriving by boat was well-addressed in the meeting. She pointed out that people smuggling is a regional problem and requires regional solutions.

Hence, Australia and Indonesia will bring in their experiences and level of cooperation to find a solution to the problem and “to ensure that we can achieve results that dismantle the criminal networks, that prey on vulnerable people and to ensure that there are no more lives lost at sea through this criminal trade.”

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