PRIME Minister Tony Abbott says his government’s policy to turn back asylum seeker boats to Indonesia will respect the country’s sovereignty.
Indonesian foreign minister Dr Marty Natalegawa has warned Australia his country won’t accept violations of its borders in relation to the boat turnback plan.
But Mr Abbott, who will visit Jakarta next week, said he wanted to work “co-operatively and constructively with our neighbours” to stop the asylum seeker boats travelling to Australia.
“We have in the past worked very constructively together to stop this problem,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.
“We are even now working very well together with the Indonesians, but we can do better in the future and we absolutely respect Indonesia’s sovereignty and we would never do or propose anything which is contrary to that.”
Dr Natalegawa met with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in New York on Tuesday and told her of his concerns about the policy.
“I think the message has been conveyed loud and clear and has been understood well,” he told reporters.
“There are steps that we can take, but they should be orderly and respect the two countries’ sovereignty.”
The asylum seeker issue will be high on the agenda when Mr Abbott and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono hold bilateral talks next week. – AAP