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Aust-Indo relations in great shape: summit

AAP logoAAP 11/11/2016 Greg Roberts

Indonesian president Joko Widodo's abrupt cancellation of his visit to Australia could be seen as a setback in a long-troubled relationship but ambassadors for both countries say the friendship has never been better.

President "Jokowi" has committed to rescheduling and coming to Australia very soon, the country's ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema told the Indonesia Business Summit in Perth on Friday.

Last week's the three-day visit was cancelled after a protest in Jakarta spiralled into violence, with up to 150,000 demonstrators demanding the jailing of the city's Christian governor for insulting Islam.

"The postponement does not reduce the commitment from both countries to pursue further co-operation ... strengthening economic relations between the two countries will be central to his agenda," Mr Kesoema said.

Mr Widodo is a former businessman - as was Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull - who "does not like filling out complicated forms" and wants to make Indonesia an easier place to do business, he said.

It was working well, with Indonesia one of the big climbers on the World Bank's ease of doing business index, he said.

The lowest points in the two countries' relationship include East Timor's violent secession in 1999 and revelations Australia tried to monitor the phone of former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, leading to the recall of Mr Kesoema in 2013.

However the relationship was now in good shape, with its respective leaders getting along well, which had flowed through to its governments, Australia's ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson said.

"There is an acceptance that from time to time we will have differences ... in the past perhaps we spent too much time on our differences and not look at the great wave of common interests," he said.

"I spend 95 to 98 per cent of my job on positive issues, encouraging greater connections."

The actual number of businesses with a presence in Indonesia was far higher than official numbers, he said. At least 1000 Australian enterprises - some only "micro" in scale - had interests in Bali and nearly 400 Jakarta before the embassy stopped counting, he said.

The number of Indonesians visiting Australia on short term visas jumped 30 per cent last year, he said, suggesting tourism was becoming more two-way.

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