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Military ties with Australia suspended

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Indonesians, Aussies in another spat

JAKARTA: Indonesia's military suspended cooperation with its Australian counterpart last month after offensive material pertaining to the country was seen at an Australian training base, reported the Kompas newspaper.

It said an Indonesian special forces trainer had seen training material that insulted Indonesia's founding principles of Pancasila, which include belief in god, unity of Indonesia, social justice and democracy.

A spokesman for the Indonesian defence forces said yesterday the suspension of ties was for "technical reasons" but declined to give details.

"All forms of cooperation have been suspended," Major-General Wuryanto said.

He said a range of activities would be affected.

It is "highly likely" cooperation would resume once the issues were resolved, he added.

But a spokesman for Indonesian President Joko Widodo said there had been no discussion of the matter with the president and that the issue had been exaggerated.

"This was not a decision of the president," spokesman Johan Budi said.

The suspension is the latest in a string of spats between the sometimes uneasy Asia Pacific neighbours, who have important military ties ranging from counterterrorism cooperation to border protection.

"Australia stopped conducting joint training exercises with Indonesian special forces, known as Kopassus, after accusations of abuses by the unit in East Timor in 1999 in the lead-up to the former Indonesian territory's independence.

Jakarta and Canberra have since resumed military ties, citing a desire to cooperate on counter-terrorism which became imperative after the bombing of two nightclubs on the island of Bali in 2002.

The offices of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Defence Minister Marise Payne and Australia's Department of Defence all declined to comment on the suspension of military cooperation.

Australian media reports said the offensive material was found at Campbell Barracks, an army base in the city of Perth.

The barracks declined to answer questions. - REUTERS