Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has months of catching up to do when she meets her Indonesian counterpart for the first time since Jakarta ignored pleas not to execute the Bali Nine pair.Drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were sent to the firing squad in April, the first Australians executed in Indonesia. That triggered the first recall of Australia’s ambassador from Jakarta, and the suspension of ministerial contact with Indonesia.
Ms Bishop insists her relationship with Retno Marsudi has remained close throughout the unprecedented circumstances of the past six months. ‘It will be an opportunity to reassess our relationship, commit to a strong, ongoing friendship, to focus on some of the challenges we’ve faced recently,’ she told reporters ahead of the Kuala Lumpur meeting on Wednesday night. ‘The relationship has always been strong, we do face challenges from time to time. ‘It’s how we respond to them, how we recover from them, that I think is important.’
On the long list of discussion items will be trade, with Australia now looking to China and other markets after Indonesia’s decision to set a live cattle import quota of only 50,000 head this quarter, down from 250,000. Indonesia’s trade minister said this could be revised up, but hasn’t given further details.