Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has praised Indonesia as the best ally in the war against terror and a great example of moderate Islam, in response to US President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.
Mr Turnbull arrived in Jakarta early on Tuesday morning to talk trade and security at the first leader’s summit of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in the Indonesian capital.
His visit comes as President Trump issued a revised executive order suspending his country’s refugee program and banning immigration from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya for 90 days.
Mr Turnbull pointed to Indonesia as proof that Islam, democracy and moderation are compatible.
“In the war against terror…our best allies, our most important allies, are Muslim leaders like (Indonesian President) Joko Widodo,” he told reporters.
Mr Turnbull would not be drawn on whether the issue of joint patrols between Indonesia and Australia in the heavily contested waters of the South China Sea had been raised by President Widodo during his recent visit to Sydney.
But he said no action would be taken that would inflame regional tensions.
“I am being very careful about this, firstly we are not going to undertake any actions which would increase tensions in the South China Sea,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Everyone has a vested interest in reducing that.”
Both countries, he added, would however would cooperate further on coordination of maritime security and trade.
Earlier this year when President Trump’s initial ban was announced spokesman for Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Arrmanatha “Tata” Christiawan Nasir expressed “deep regret” over the decision saying it would have a negative impact on the fight against terrorism.
“We believe that it is a mistake and I think we are going on a slippery slope when we start thinking the issue of radicalism and terrorism around a particular religion,” he said in February.