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Bicycle diplomacy: Anthony Albanese and Joko Widodo gear up for challenging times

Bicycle diplomacy: Anthony Albanese and Joko Widodo gear up for challenging times

hen I was last in Jakarta, Malcolm Turnbull was the prime minister, and the president Joko Widodo took the Australian prime minister for a walk…

Monday, Jun 06

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hen I was last in Jakarta, Malcolm Turnbull was the prime minister, and the president Joko Widodo took the Australian prime minister for a walk through a local market – part of his regular tradition as the Indonesian leader.

Back then, the walk was a gesture of healing. Turnbull’s visit in 2015 was an effort to reset one of Australia’s most important foreign policy relationships which had been derailed by a number of events during the Abbott prime ministership, including running disagreements over asylum boat turnbacks, revelations that Australia had spied on (or attempted to spy on) the then president, Susilo Yudhoyono, his wife and nine members of their inner circle in 2009 and – later – the executions of the Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

This time, Australia’s prime minister is Anthony Albanese , the contemporary bilateral spats are more workaday, and the gesture of welcome from the Indonesian president was a bike ride through the lush grounds of the Bogor Palace.

Jokowi (as Widodo is popularly known) and Albanese have met each other before, but Monday was their first face-to-face encounter as peers. As he entered the grounds of the Bogor Palace, Albanese looked like he might burst with joy at the moment he found himself in – two weeks a prime minister, crawling up the forecourt of the Bogor Palace in a motorcade.

Australian officials say the new Labor prime minister was deeply touched by the president’s bicycle gesture, which referenced the humble beginnings of the two […]

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