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Downer, Ruddock in Indonesia for talks

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Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the threat of terrorism in Indonesia has been significantly reduced.

Mr Downer and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock arrived in Indonesia on Sunday ahead of a two-day regional counter-terrorism conference in Jakarta which starts on Monday.

He said Indonesia "stands as a bit of an example to other countries" in the area of counter-terrorism with 200 people arrested or killed.

"I don't want to tempt fate here because there are always risks of terrorist attacks," he told reporters after arriving in the city of Semarang, east of Jakarta.

"You only have to look at the travel advisories which are built on the back of information we have on an on-going basis.

"So let us not tempt fate with too many optimistic statements (but) there's been a real success in countering terrorism in Indonesia.

"It's not to say that the threat's gone away but there's no doubt it's significantly less than it has been."

He said the biggest problem of terrorism in South-East Asia was in southern Thailand.

Tackling terrorism and people smuggling will be top of the agenda during the Downer-Ruddock trip to Indonesia.

The senior ministers jetted into Semarang late Sunday, where they were due to inspect the joint Australia-Indonesia facility, the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC), as well as the Indonesian National Police Academy (AKPOL).

They were also due to open a regional executive leadership course for Australian and Indonesian police to better tackle transnational crime and terrorism in the region.

They will head to Jakarta on Monday for the regional counter-terrorism conference.

The Jakarta meeting, hosted by Indonesia and Australia, will bring together foreign affairs and law enforcement ministers, as well as police chiefs, from the six countries facing the biggest terrorist threat in the region.

Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand will take part in the counter-terrorism summit, which will focus on ways to counter radicalism and how countries prepare for mass casualty attacks.

The meeting will also focus on finding ways to engage alienated young Muslims before they turn militant is crucial to finding a long-term solution to the terrorist threat.

Mr Downer is also expected to hold bilateral talks with his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda, where they are expected to discuss Australia's recent interception of 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers.

The fate of the 83 Sri Lankan men remains unclear, almost two weeks after they were intercepted by the Australian Navy in international waters.

Australia has asked Indonesia if it would accept the men back, and allow them to be processed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia, where they boarded their wooden vessel.

But Indonesia's Department of Foreign Affairs has said it had made its position clear - that it will accept the men, but will immediately send the men back to Sri Lanka.

"We don't see any necessity, any need for the international organisation to get involved," Indonesian foreign affairs spokesman Desra Percaya said on Friday.

Australia's other options could be to send them to the Pacific Island of Nauru, or process them on Christmas Island, where they are now.

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