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Malcolm Turnbull to make surprise visit to Jakarta next week

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull conduct “morning walk diplomacy” as they stroll through the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney on Sunday. Photo: Indonesian President’s Office ‘It wasn’t just a stuffy leader’s visit, it was made much bigger than that.’: Joko Widodo and Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Sunday. Photo: Indonesian President’s Office
苏州桑拿会所

President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talk to a father carrying his eight-week-old baby. Photo: Indonesian President’s Office

Jakarta: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will visit Indonesia next week, in a surprise move that underscores the success of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s weekend trip to and the close personal relationship between the two leaders.

President Jokowi, as he is popularly known, announced in a press statement that Mr Turnbull would attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association leadership summit, which is being held in Jakarta from March 5 to 7.

The announcement came at the end of a two-day visit, in which President Jokowi and his wife Iriana attended a private dinner at Mr Turnbull’s Point Piper mansion and strolled with him through the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney on Sunday morning.

“We have actually covered all of our bilateral issues on our dinner and morning walk,” President Jokowi said at a joint press conference on the lawns of Kirribilli House.

The leaders announced the full restoration of military co-operation between the two countries after a languages training program was suspended early this year following the discovery of curriculum materials at a Perth army base that Indonesia found offensive.

They also agreed that negotiations on a free trade deal would be concluded this year. Indonesia would lower its tariff on n sugar to 5 per cent and in return would eliminate tariffs on pesticides and herbicides coming from Indonesia.

President Jokowi also said more Indonesian language centres would be opened in in addition to the existing centres in Perth, Melbourne and Canberra.

The stroll was described as “morning walk diplomacy” by President Jokowi’s office, with the two leaders stopping to interact with locals who were exercising, including a father carrying his eight-week-old baby.

It echoed Mr Turnbull and President Jokowi’s famous “blusukan” or impromptu visit to Tanah Abang market, when the two leaders were given a rock star welcome during the Prime Minister’s visit to Jakarta in November 2015.

“Morning walk diplomacy may become one of the powerful ways to improve bilateral relations for the better in the future,” the president’s press office said.

Associate Professor Greg Fealy from the n National University said he believed a major reason behind President Jokowi’s visit to was the close personal relationship between the two leaders.

“It looks very much as if Malcolm Turnbull wants to build on that and keep momentum going and I think that’s a good thing. Before Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister, Jokowi didn’t really demonstrate much interest at all in .”

Professor Fealy said the way Mr Turnbull had managed President Jokowi’s visit was very skilful, including spontaneously introducing him to local Sydneysiders as they ran along past the harbour.

“Jokowi always sees himself as a man of the people. It wasn’t just a stuffy leader’s visit, it was made much bigger than that. All these things are good for the bilateral relationship.”

Sade Bimantara, a spokesperson for the Indonesian embassy in Canberra, said Mr Turnbull’s trip to Indonesia next week reflected the success of the president’s visit to and the importance of the -Indonesia relationship.

“They discussed a number of issues from military cooperation to trade and investment and also signed a number of agreements including one on joint maritime cooperation and one on the creative economy.

“That showed both leaders place this relationship as one of the top priorities.”

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