Australia and Indonesia agreed on Thursday to focus on cyber security in their fight against terrorism and transnational crimes after a meeting in Jakarta.
The agreement was reached at the third ministerial council meeting on security and law despite the ongoing suspension of military cooperation between the two countries.
The meeting highlighted an array of issues related to counterterrorism, such as deradicalization, cyber intrusion, as well as tracing and stopping those funding terrorism online.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, who led the Indonesian delegation, noted that both countries had openly exchanged views on the development of regional security dynamics and the importance of maintaining stability in the region.
“The meeting today [Thursday] was held in an open, constructive and friendly atmosphere, so we expect that it will result in tighter and stronger cooperation in law and security,” Wiranto said in a press conference at the conclusion of the meeting.
Australian Attorney-General George Brandis, who led his country’s delegation, said it was the first time cyber security had been included as a topic of the meeting.
Brandis said both countries were working closely together in response to increasing cyber security threats .
He added that cyber security had been the subject of long discussion during the meeting and was the focus of several agreements reached between the two countries.
Although the topic has been discussed since the inaugural ministerial council meeting in Jakarta in December 2015, concrete measures have only been initiated this year, signifying the growing importance of the matter to both nations.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s East Asia and Pacific director, Edi Yusup, said Indonesia was confirmed to attend a workshop on cyber security in Australia in the coming months.
“The workshop in Australia will be an opportunity to learn how the country develops cyber-security policies and strategies,” he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting, adding that the place and date of the meeting was yet to be determined.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) and its Indonesian counterpart centre (PPATK) announced on Wednesday that they would launch a new project later this year to enhance Indonesia’s ability to face the increasing number of online threats, especially those related to detecting and cutting flows of funds related to terrorism and crime.
The cooperation is part of the agencies’ efforts to cut the financial lifelines of terrorism in an agreement signed ahead of the meeting.
Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan emphasized the importance of continued cooperation between the two agencies, especially on intelligence sharing to monitor financial flows, prevent terrorism and halting the funding of organized crime.
“We will increasingly share the intelligence that we need to tackle illegal money flows,” Keenan told the Post.
Brandis stressed that focusing on the flow of money was one of the most effective ways to combat growing terrorism.
“One of the important agenda items of this council today and of the ongoing work between our agencies and our officials is to work together to choke off the flow of funds to terrorist organizations,” Brandis told the press conference.
Maritime security was also highlighted in the meeting. On the issue of the South China Sea, both countries stressed the importance of maintaining security and stability in the region.
The two are “like-minded” in their call to respect and uphold the international rules-based order of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), especially as a peaceful solution to the dispute.
Wiranto further reiterated Indonesia’s stance as a non-claimant state.
“Indonesia and Australia have agreed to maintain regional stability together, especially to avoid conflict related to the South China Sea, which could disrupt relations between the countries and automatically disrupt the regional economy and security,” he said.
The meeting also discussed issues of concern to each country. The Indonesian minister specifically noted illicit drugs and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as key issues for Indonesia.
The fourth ministerial council meeting is expected to be held in Australia later this year and build upon the agreements established by the ministerial council over the course of the three prior meetings.
Separately, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said that relations with Australia remained in “good shape”, aside from the pending investigation results related to the suspension of military cooperation.
Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo was notably absent from the meeting, despite Wiranto’s office having issued a confirmation of his attendance ahead of the event.
Gatot suspended military cooperation with Australia in early January following the discovery of materials at a military training center in Perth that were deemed offensive.