CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday brushed off a media report that his telephone conversation with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last month was secretly recorded by a journalist.
The telephone conversation marked an improvement in a diplomatic furor sparked in November when media reported phone-tapping allegations from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. The reports said that Australia had listened in on the cell phones of Yudhoyono, his wife and eight Indonesian ministers and officials in 2009.
Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Tuesday that journalists had been allowed in the same room as Yudhoyono on the Indonesian resort island of Bali when he took Abbott’s call from Australia last month. A journalist published a transcript of the conversation in which the two leaders discussed demonstrating a new relationship between their countries following the phone-tapping spat.
Abbott did not directly reply when asked by the ABC whether he had known that the telephone conversation had been recorded.
“I was having a very genial conversation with the president and I could tell the president was very keen to have a warm conversation with me,” Abbott told ABC.
“The important thing is the quality of the conversation,” he added.
Abbott and Yudhoyono will meet on the Indonesian island of Batam on Wednesday for the first time since Indonesia downgraded the bilateral relationship and withdrew its ambassador from Australia in protest against Australian espionage.
Indonesian ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema returned to Australia last week. But full bilateral relations will not be restored until the governments agree on terms of a new code of conduct.
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