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Indonesians protest as spy row goes on

RAW VISION: Indonesians demonstrate outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta as spying row simmers on.

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Indonesia's cooperation with Australia on people smuggling, trade, police and military exercises will stay on hold until after Tony Abbott has agreed to a “code of ethics” for the use of intelligence.

The insistence by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after a special cabinet meeting yesterday indicates his fury over “illegal surveillance” remains fresh despite Mr Abbott’s attempts at calming the situation, and he is prepared to indefinitely extend the Australian Prime Minister’s pain on the issue.

'A Mexican stand-off between Indonesia and Australia.'

'A Mexican stand-off between Indonesia and Australia.' Photo: Oscar Siagian

The protocol must be developed by negotiation between a “special envoy,” or Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, and his Australian counterpart, and signed by both countries' leaders and implemented before normal relations can resume, the President said.

Dr Yudhoyono revealed at a press briefing last night that Mr Abbott’s letter did not include an apology, but rather a pledge to “not take any action in future that may damage or interfere with Indonesia”.

Dr Yudhoyono would not release the letter, but spoke approvingly its contents before saying there were “a number of matters that still require to be clarified by the Government of Australia”.

Firstly, he tasked his foreign minister, or an unnamed “special envoy” to discuss “in depth the serious matters and issues … including bilateral relations with Australia” raised by the phone tapping revelation. 

These meetings would be the first step in developing a “protocol or code of ethics” governing bilateral relations between the countries, “including intelligence cooperation” that was “clear, just, and is abided by”.

He insisted the protocol be implemented, adopted formally at a meeting between the leaders of both countries and tested to make sure it was workable and both sides would stand by it.

“Then, after the protocol and code of ethics is truly implemented, I am of the view that the cooperation that clearly brings benefit to both our countries can be continued and reestablished - that includes security, military and police cooperation between the two countries,” Dr Yudhoyono said. 

A spokesman later said there was no timeframe to develop the protocol. In the meantime, Dr Yudhoyono urged “the people of Indonesia to remain calm”, and said the relations between the people of the two countries “must be maintained and safeguarded”.

“Please believe that I and the government I lead recognise our responsibilities, we will work very hard to overcome and resolve this matter and we will cooperate with the government of Australia,” the Indonesian president said.

“On the one hand the government will be responsible … we must still remain rational in our actions, we must not be excessive, we must not be overly emotional.”

The plea came as yet another protest - this time by highly connected militia group Pemuda Pancasila - was staged outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta.

In a further sign of his displeasure with the “five eyes” countries who worked to tap his phone and that of his wife and inner circle in 2009, Dr Yudhoyono said he wanted further investigation of media stories that South Korea and Singapore had been involved in tapping undersea cables carrying  information to and from Indonesia on behalf of Australia and the United States.

He instructed foreign minister Mr Natalegawa to “call in” and seek an explanation from the ambassadors of both countries.

Dr Yudhoyono said the president would not be writing to Mr Abbott to formally put his point of view.

“Well, the people have seen this issue.

This issue is not only between President Yudhoyono and PM Tony Abbott but it has involved the public too,” the spokesman said.