Aussie FM hosts Indonesian counterpart for talks on defense, trade and national security

MELBOURNE, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) — Australia and Indonesia will seek to grow their positive relationship following a rocky start to 2015, with both nations’ foreign ministers scheduled to discuss defense on Monday.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will host Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi but the meetings will also be attended by Defense Minister Marise Payne and her Indonesian colleague.

Bishop told the media on Monday that Australia and Indonesia continue to forge a “very good” relationship, following a period of angst shared by both nations earlier in the year.

Australia recalled its Ambassador to Indonesia and Australians called for a boycott of Bali following the controversial execution of two of the Bali nine drug smugglers.

Bishop was a staunch advocate against the death penalty but has said since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took over from Tony Abbott, the bilateral talks, such as the one hosted by Bishop on Monday, have been smooth and without indignation.

“It certainly is an incredible platform upon which we continue to build our bilateral relationship,” Bishop told the media on Monday.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi recalled meeting with Bishop six times during 2015 and talked up the progress made through their text message exchanges.

“I believe that we will have a very fruitful and productive meeting,” Marsudi said Monday.

Also on the agenda is trade and investment as well as cyber and national security in the wake of a number of challenges posed to the world by religious extremists in the Middle East.

“We are firmly of the view that these challenges are best tackled when we work comprehensively, collaboratively and in a way that benefits the interests of both our nations,” Bishop said.

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