Australia Denies Trying To 'recruit' Indonesian Soldiers

Australia denies trying to 'recruit' Indonesian soldiers

SYDNEY, Jan 5, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 05th Jan, 2017 ) - Australia Thursday rejected claims it tried to "recruit" Indonesia's best soldiers as it worked to mend relations with Jakarta after military ties were suspended.

The two neighbours revealed Wednesday military cooperation had been put on ice last month after teaching materials deemed offensive to Jakarta were found at an Australian army base. Cooperation including joint exercises and education and exchange programmes were halted after a visiting Indonesian officer raised concerns about the materials.

Authorities did not say what caused offence but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said it related to posters of West Papua, an eastern Indonesian province where a low-level insurgency has been simmering for decades.

The ABC also broadcast footage Thursday of Indonesia's military chief General Gatot Nurmantyo giving a lecture in November, voicing fears Canberra was trying to recruit soldiers sent to Australia for training.

"Every time there is a training programme -- like recently -- the best five or 10 students would be sent to Australia. That happened before I was chief so I let that happen," he said in translated remarks, according to the broadcaster.

"Once I became chief commander of the national forces, it did not happen again. They will certainly be recruited. They will certainly be recruited." Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne denied Canberra had targeted Indonesian soldiers to be potential agents.

"No, that is not the case and it is something which we would not countenance of course," she said. Payne added to the ABC that an investigation into the teaching materials that sparked the bilateral row was almost complete and Canberra took the concerns seriously.