Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Australian forces to be allowed into Indonesian waters

Indonesia is poised to allow Australian authorities free rein to rescue asylum seekers in Indonesian waters.

Indonesia's defence minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro says he expects a deal to be signed as early as next month which means Australian authorities no longer need permission to enter Indonesia's Search and Rescue Zone.

In the past 10 months hundreds of asylum seekers have drowned off the Java coast and hundreds more have issued distress calls.

Indonesia says it expects Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to visit the country this month, with a possible deal to be signed in September.

"There are many illegal migrants coming especially to Christmas Island and they are sending distress signals asking for assistance," Mr Purnomo said.

"So Australia's asking us when their patrol boats can enter our waters, what are the rules that apply.

"So far they have doing that, but actually they're doing it without rules protecting them. They worry that our radar would be catching them, either the air defence system or the maritime radar."
It has been less than a week since the two countries found themselves in such a sticky search and rescue bind.

An asylum seeker boat north-west of Bali sent out a distress call, but once night fell local authorities could not cope and Australia was left waiting an invitation to respond.

"It’s not a joint patrol because we have been doing that already," Mr Purnomo said.

"A joint patrol is when each navy ship is patrolling their own area at the same time, but this one is to let them enter into our waters." By Australia ABC Indonesia correspondent George Roberts

No comments:

Post a Comment