Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and its immediate neighbor Australia have always had an exciting relationship, as the two countries are very friendly with each other, need each other, but sometimes they quarrel.

The latest example of a diplomatic rift between the two countries occurred last year, following revelations of illegal wiretapping conducted by Australian surveillance agencies targeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his inner circle and the First Lady.

Indonesia strongly protested the spying and recalled its ambassador to Australia, Nadjib Riphat Kesoema in November 2013. But, six months later, the ambassador returned to Canberra, indicating that the bilateral relations between the two neighbors have normalized.

The ambassadors return in May 2014 is expected to help galvanize talks on a code of conduct (COC) proposed by the Indonesian government. The agreement on COC is expected to be signed in August, which will be the final confirmation of resumption of normal diplomatic ties between the two neighbors.

Prior to the COC signing, however, President Yudhoyono received Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Batam on June 4, 2014. The two leaders held a bilateral meeting described by the Indonesian head of state as "very productive and very constructive".

"We discussed efforts to safeguard and further enhance the cooperation and partnership between our two countries, our two nations, so that we may establish a better future, a future based on the principles of mutual benefit and mutual respect," Yudhoyono said in a press statement following the meeting with Abbott.

It was quite common for any two neighboring countries, which are very friendly to one another, to have problems sometimes, he said.

"However, despite such events, we still maintain the spirit of finding a solution, the best solution and the wisest solution so as to resolve such a matter. Hence, that is the spirit and commitment that both I and the Australian Prime Minister possess when we are confronted with such an issue or a problem," he stated.

An important point in the discussion during the Batam meeting was Australias and Indonesias efforts to overcome and resolve one issue that almost distracted, had briefly interrupted, their bilateral relations, and that was the wire-tapping or surveillance issue in 2013, Yudhoyono mentioned.

He expressed the hope that both countries will continue bilateral cooperation including in military and security.

"In short, what we can do to resolve this issue that interrupted the good relations between Australia and Indonesia, can still later bring great benefit, because we know that both nations, Indonesia and Australia desire to always be good friends," Yudhoyono stated.

In response to President Yudhoyonos statement, Prime Minister Abbott conveyed his views on the close relations between Australia and Indonesia and the hopes for continued and stronger relations.

"Thank you so much for the warmth and cordiality of our discussion today, and thank you for the consistent friendship that you have shown to Australia over the last decade. This is a very important relationship to Australia," Abbott stated.

The bilateral relationship was very important to him, to his country, and in fact, it was the most important relationship, given Indonesias size, proximity and potential, as one of the emerging democratic superpowers of Asia, he said.

"One of the great things about this relationship is that -- on those rare occasions when there are problems, we talk them through. We speak candidly to each other and thats exactly whats happened between me and President Yudhoyono, today. Yes, there have been a couple of issues between our countries over the last few months, but I am confident that they are well on the way to resolution. A satisfactory and successful resolution," Abbott stated in Batam.

Previously, media reports quoted Yudhoyono as saying that the COC would have to include "protocols" and guarantees that the phones of Indonesian politicians would not be monitored in the future.

"I am determined to do everything I can to improve the relationship - particularly during the term of Yudhoyono, which ends in October, because the current president has been a very good friend to Australia," Abbott had earlier said.

The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has had several meetings with Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa about the new code.

"Australia would not use its resources, our intelligence resources, to the detriment of our friends and neighbors, and that includes Indonesia," she was quoted as telling the Indonesian foreign minister.

The relationship between Indonesia and Australia was currently in the stage of exchanging of the COC drafts to be used to govern diplomatic relations between the two countries in the future, Minister Natalegawa had recently said.

"I will keep in touch with the State Secretary Bishop to ensure that progress is being made, and we are at the stage of exchanging the COC," he said.

It was important for the officials of Indonesia and Australia to keep in touch and to establish communication, even more so during such difficult times in their diplomatic relationship, Natalegawa added.

For Australia, Indonesia, which has the worlds fourth largest population and is home to the worlds largest Muslim population, is a major source of students and a destination for tourists.

Some 150,000 Indonesian university students currently pursue their study in Australia, while one million Australian tourists visit Indonesia, particularly Bali Island.

Tony Abbott opened an art exhibition titled "Bali: The Island of Gods" held at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra on June 18, 2014.

Indonesia and Australia had strong bilateral relations, and the people from both countries should focus on maintaining those ties instead of other issues, he stated in his remarks.

Supporting Abbots statement, Indonesian Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema expressed hope that the Canberra exhibition would help build better understanding between Indonesians and Australians.

Edited by INE

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Aditia Maruli Radja
Copyright © ANTARA 2014