Is Australia’s Abbott dancing with Asia or stepping on toes?

Tony Abbott shaking his booty. Source: The Michael Duffy files.

Tony Abbott shaking his booty. Source: The Michael Duffy files.

Michael Sainsbury, Nikkei Asian Review

After his sweeping victory in the mid-September elections, new Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott appeared to have the right idea about the country’s foreign policy direction. Among other pledges, he vowed to turn the official focus to the Asia-Pacific and engage with a region that accounts for about 90% of Australia’s trade.But a series of blunders by the new leader, as well as widening fallout from revelations by U.S. security-information leaker Edward Snowden, has opened new fissures in Australia’s relationships with its closest neighbor, Indonesia, and main trade partner, China.

On Nov. 18, Indonesia called its ambassador to Australia back to Jakarta. The move followed disclosures in cables leaked by Snowden that Australia had been eavesdropping electronically on Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and inner circle since at least 2009.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the country’s relationship with Australia has changed. “We are also reviewing the relationship between Indonesia and Australia in general, not only in regards … to information and intelligence exchange, to ensure that it’s not just business as usual,” the official said. Read more….