SBY turns his back to Kerry

Indonesia’s foreign minister says he is baffled by the latest report of a top-secret document about Australia spying on Indonesia and offering to share that information with the US, saying he was not sure how snooping on a trade spat could relate to security.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said he found mind-boggling Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s explanation concerning allegations that Canberra conducted surveillance involving an American law firm hired by the Indonesian government to help in a trade dispute with the US.

In the document obtained by former US National Security Agency system analyst Edward Snowden, Australia offered to share the information it collected with the NSA, The New York Times reported on its website over the weekend.

Abbott has refused to comment on the report but told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that any material gathered is “for the benefit of our friends” and to “protect our citizens and the citizens of other countries.”

“To suggest that the future of shrimp exports from Indonesia to the United States has an impact on Australian security is a bit too much,” Natalegawa said, referring to a dispute over Indonesia allegedly dumping shrimp on the US at below-market prices.

“In our view, neighbours like Indonesia and Australia should be looking out for each other, not turning against each other. We should be listening to each and not listening in, and I think it is a very important and fine distinction,” he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with Natalegawa in Jakarta on Monday, said the US does not collect intelligence to give US companies a commercial advantage.

Natalegawa said he and Kerry discussed how the US is currently undergoing a review of its surveillance activities.

In statements to the Times and The Associated Press, the NSA said Sunday it “does not ask its foreign partners to undertake any intelligence activity that the US government would be legally prohibited from undertaking itself.”

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cancelled his meeting with Kerry scheduled for Monday and instead travelled to East Java to visit victims in shelters who were forced to evacuate when a volcano erupted last week, killing four people.

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