Cooperation with Indonesia critical: Australian PM

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Canberra, Dec 13: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd commemorated the loss of Australian lives in the Bali bombings with visit to a memorial in Denpasar. Mr Rudd said many Australian families had been affected by the bombings and it was critical to expand Australia's counter-terrorism cooperation with Indonesia.

''The threat of terrorism is real as we've seen in the recent tragic events in Algiers. Therefore, we must remain forever vigilant in the area,'' Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) qouted him as saying. National security and the security of Australians abroad were of fundamental importance to the responsibilities of any Australian government, the Australian PM claimed.

Earlier, Mr Rudd held talks with the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, telling him that it was time to turn a page in the relationship between the two countries. ''This relationship has been through a very difficult period in recent times,'' he said.

''There has been a freeze on ministerial contact between the two governments. I do not believe that's an appropriate way forward for the future,'' he added.

The prime ministers have committed to a bilateral ministerial forum in PNG early next year and Australia will also send a team of officials to Port Moresby in January to discuss cooperation on climate change, with a focus on deforestation.

Mr Rudd has also reiterated his commitment to look at using the military to gather information about Japanese whaling to assist in any legal action the government could take to intervene.


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