Australia won’t let the execution of two of its citizens permanently damage relations with Indonesia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.
Australia’s ambassador Paul Grigson has returned to his post in Jakarta, five weeks after being pulled out in protest over the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
“We took what was a pretty unprecedented step. But he’s been out of there for about 40 days and I think now is an appropriate time for him to go back,” Mr Abbott said of the ambassador on Wednesday.
Australia’s relations with Indonesia were strong and getting stronger, he said.
“We thought that those executions were unnecessary and counterproductive. But we also made it crystal clear at the time that we weren’t going to let this permanently damage what is a very good friendship and a very important relationship.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the ambassador would get on with the job of providing consular assistance, as well as working on counter-terrorism, transnational crime, tackling people-smuggling and boosting trade and investment.
Ms Bishop said ministerial-level meetings had not yet resumed.
“We are considering that option now,” she said.
Bill Farmer, a former Australian ambassador to Indonesia, said the Indonesians were reacting in a “very low-key way” as Australia started to rebuild the relationship.
It would not be useful for Australia to rush in with senior-level visits, he said.
“We should, in a measured way, do what we’ve been doing very well with Indonesia over the long-term and that is work with them so that we can re-establish high-level contacts and basically work to pursue Australian interests,” Mr Farmer told the ABC.
He said Indonesian President Joko Widodo did not have a “strong international bent”, so it was difficult to know how hard it would be to re-establish the contact.