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Transcript of media doorstop: Bali Regional Counter-Terrorism Conference: 4 February 2004:

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E and OE

4 February 2004


Minister for Foreign Affairs

Bali Regional Counter-Terrorism Conference Media Doorstop - Hon Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr Hassan Wirajuda, Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr Wirajuda: Friends of the media. You have just witnessed that we have completed the Opening Session of the Regional Conference on Counter-Terrorism and we have also completed the process of dealing with counter-terrorism and our collective regional response. We will continue deliberations this afternoon and tomorrow, including an important retreat which will be attended by all Ministers and Head of Delegations. In this conference, we are trying to fill the gap between political commitments made by all countries in the region and the practical co-operation that we need to develop further. In this regard, we are very grateful to Australia for co-hosting this regional conference with Indonesia and previous conferences of this nature. We hope that through this conference we will be able to strengthen our regional resolve on improving the capacity of countries in the region in combating terrorism. Mr Downer.

Mr Downer: I just want to say that it is a great pleasure for us to co-chair with the Republic of Indonesia, this Counter-Terrorism Conference. I think it is a very important development. We have Ministers from the region and also beyond, including the Attorney-General of the United States. This is a great opportunity for us to take a stock-take of where we are at in terms of our counter-terrorism activities, and also see whether there is more we can do to continue the success that Australia and Indonesia, working together, have demonstrated over the last couple of years. It has been a very good story of Australia/Indonesia cooperation and I think we do set an example to the rest of the region, maybe we even set an example for the rest of the world. As we are to bring to bear our experiences, coming out of the Bali bombing and in relation to the Marriott bombing, of cooperation, between our police forces, to be able to bring those experiences here as an example to the rest of the world and I hope that we can continue to set a good example of close and effective cooperation.

Journalist: How much is it envisaged that the Centre will cost operate and when is it going to happen?

Mr Downer: Well, I cannot off the top of my head give you a number on that, but obviously the cost will progressively build up. The ultimate cost of it will depend very much on the extent to which it will expand. This is building on the Indonesian and Australia cooperation and we would like to feel that as time goes on, this will be a Centre

that will be a real resource to be drawn on by the region as a whole and the more the region draws on the resource, presumably the bigger the Centre becomes and, of course, its budget will expand. We look not just to Australia and Indonesia to provide funding for it, we are providing the seed funding, we look to support from other countries in the region and also the United States, the European Union. I think as time goes on that we will get that support. So it is not really an easy question to answer.

Journalist: Will it be a user pays system if people want to use it?

Mr Downer: No, it won’t be a user pays system, it will be an open house in the sense that police forces, particularly in the region, who want to draw on the resources that are made available by the Centre will be able to do so and it will be open for them to do so. There won’t be a demand that they pay.

Journalist: When is it going to be operated?

Mr Downer: We are in the process of setting it up now, so, soon, during the course of this year.

Mr Wirajuda: The Centre will be established in Jakarta. Of course we have certain locations for certain activities. In the compounds of the Police Academy some training takes place for police activities . . . (inaudible). . . Basically, the Centre itself will be in Jakarta.

Journalist: . . . (inaudible). . .

Mr Wirajuda: Well, we are still in the stage of formalizing the structure of the Centre, as well as the programmes for the future.

Mr Downer: I think General Bachtiar and Police Commissioner Keelty will tomorrow provide some background briefing on some of those details.

Journalist: . . . (inaudible). . .

Mr Downer: Just let me make a point here. I think we have gone past this stage in our relationship of being paranoid about each other. What we are talking about is looking for ways of cooperation. We are not trying to interfere with anything or anyone. We are just trying to work together as a team to try to overcome a terrible problem and it is in Australia’s interest and in Indonesia’s interest, as well as the interests of the whole of the Asia-Pacific Region, that we work together, not try to work in isolation to counter the problem of terrorism.

Journalist: Mr Downer, has there been any thought given to how many extra Australian Federal Police could possibly be posted to Jakarta as a part of this Centre and Pak Wirajuda, would that be a problem for Indonesia?

Mr Downer: Well, I couldn’t give you a number, but it is possible that there will be. I mean there will be some AFP people in a training capacity there, over and above what we already have. They wouldn’t necessarily be there for any other purpose, but to help with training and ensuring that the Centre works well with their Indonesian counterparts. But

then again, we see all this not in terms of confrontation or difficulties or conspiracies, as there may have been, or at least alleged to have been, over the last 50 years, but in terms of a completely new level of cooperation between Australia and Indonesia, the likes of which we have not seen before.

Journalist: . . . (inaudible). . .

Mr Downer: Obviously the Indonesian authorities are doing what they can to track these people down, but in the context of this meeting the Indonesian Government has done a very good job, particularly the Indonesian Police, since the Bali bombing. I mean, they have arrested the people responsible for the Bali bombing. A lot of those people have been convicted and sentenced by Indonesian courts. Look, this isn’t an easy matter. We have been very impressed with the job the Indonesians have done. Indonesia has a particular authority on these issues. Indonesia has been the victim of terrorism. Indonesia has demonstrated that you can react effectively to this. You can track the people down that commit acts of terror. You can bring them to justice. So, we have a great deal of admiration for what the Indonesian authorities have done over the last couple of years in terms of addressing this problem, except there is more work to be done. There are some people still out there who haven’t been caught. There have attempts to catch them and they haven’t always been successful. We always hoped in our own private lives, as well as in international relations, for 100% success. It is pretty hard to achieve that, but we are heading in the right direction.

Journalist: Mr Wirajuda, can I just ask you if you have had any discussions yet with John Ashcroft in regard to Hambali, and whether or not the Indonesians are going to get access or not?

Mr Wirajuda: Yes, they will do what they can to grant access to us. In terms of the process of investigations we are now undertaking. We will continue our discussions with the US officials from Washington, but at this stage I cannot disclose to you what the arrangement will be.

Journalist: But you are hopeful that the Indonesians will be able to question Hambali at some stage?

Mr Wirajuda: I would like to say that we are hopeful, because we need to be.

Journalist: . . . (Indonesian language question). . .

Mr Wirajuda: The President brought up the issue of mutual legal assistance with my colleagues, Mr Alexander Downer and also with the Attorney-General of the United States. . . . (inaudible). . . . I think we will discuss in more detail what we can develop in terms of a regional framework.

Mr Downer: Just to add to that, President Megawati, myself and Mr Ruddock, our Attorney-General, spent quite a lot of time talking about this issue. It is actually a very important issue because in any of our countries if you are to get evidence where you can prosecute people in our courts, you need first-hand evidence. Just having materials passed on by other governments is often quite inadequate in terms of getting convictions in courts. You typically have to have your own police doing the investigations and talking to witnesses. So, this is an issue that we all need to think about fairly carefully. Of

course, there are pros and cons in all of these debates, but when you are just addressing the question of getting prosecutions, here in Indonesia or the US or wherever it may be, first-hand contact by the local people with witnesses is a very important component and we need to talk some more about that. There are some emerging issues there though.

Question by Indonesian Journalist and response by Mr Wirajuda in Indonesian