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Indonesia Asks Australia to Remove Travel Warning

Ministerial Meeting Between Australia and Indonesia Focuses on Regional Security Issues.

(3/21/2005) At the 7th Australian-Indonesian Ministerial Forum (AIMF) held in Canberra on Friday, March 13, 2005, the Indonesian delegation of Ministers asked their Australian counterparts to remove the travel warning advising against Australians visiting Indonesia because of the widespread negative impact of those warnings on the Indonesian economy.

The Indonesian delegation, led by Indonesia's coordinating minister for the economy, Aburizal Bakrie, were assured by the head of the Australian delegation, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, that the travel warning issued by the Australian government was a matter under continual review.

One day prior to when Downer's assurances were made to the visiting Indonesian officials, Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, told members of the Indonesian press that travel warnings represented a complicated issue, demanding that the Australian government be forthright with the Australian public regarding the tragic possibilities inherent in holidaying in Indonesia.

Visas on Arrival for Indonesian Tourists

The visiting Indonesian leaders also put forth the suggestion that Australia consider easing the visa requirements for Indonesians visiting Australia, including the provision of a visa on arrival facility. The introduction of such a reciprocal facility in Australia for traveling Indonesians would be in conformance with Indonesia's long-held desire for reciprocity in bilateral immigration policies and the current immigration courtesies extended to Australians visiting Indonesia.

The Dimensions of the Terrorist Threat

Before departing for the Canberra summit, Minister Bakrie told the press that he felt Australia's perceived threat of terrorist far exceed any real danger. Supporting his argument, Bakrie said, "Singapore is a country with strict anti-terrorism policies, yet it does not prevent its citizens or the citizens of other Southeast Asian nations from traveling in the region. Australia should adopt a similar approach."

Another reported outcome of the Canberra summit was an agreement to establish a security accord between Indonesia and Australia as a means of countering the world-wide threat of terrorism.