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Returned fighters dominate Jakarta talks

AAP logoAAP 26/10/2016 Lauren Farrow and Heru Rahadi

The danger posed by returned fighters from Syria and Iraq has dominated talks between Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Indonesia's security minister, with both countries discussing the need to strengthen intelligence sharing.

On the first day of her three-day visit to Indonesia, Ms Bishop met with President Joko Widodo and her counterpart Retno Marsudi on Wednesday morning in which counter-terrorism and ongoing tensions in the South China Sea were touched upon.

After lunch, she met with Security Minister Wiranto and had a "detailed discussion" about returning fighters, with around 110 Australians and 500 Indonesians believed to be in Iraq and Syria.

"They have networks, they have connections, they have experience and skills that can be used against Australian citizens and we intend to do whatever we can working in co-operation with partners like Indonesia to keep our citizens safe," Ms Bishop told reporters.

This included sharing more information, including intelligence provided to Australia by its other partners when relevant, she said.

Around 53 Indonesian fighters have returned from Syria and Iraq, Mr Wiranto said, adding that they were taking a "soft approach" - through deradicalisation programs and encouraging them to "go back to normal life".

So far, he added, Indonesia's partnership on counter-terrorism has worked well, pointing to how Australia's assistance with technology and intelligence had helped police finally track down Santoso in July - then the country's most wanted militant.

The comments came after the US government review board earlier on Wednesday rejected the release of Indonesian Encep Nurjaman Hambali - alleged to be behind the deadly 2002 Bali bombing - from Guantanamo Bay.

A statement announcing the Periodic Review Board decision said Hambali continued to be a "significant threat to the security of the United States."

Mr Wiranto said Indonesia was the most populous Muslim country in the world and so has the danger of becoming the "source and target" of terrorism.

He said Indonesia would not tolerate terrorists and would only welcome them back if they realise such acts were "evil".

Ms Bishop is expected to fly out to Bali on Wednesday night where she attend the 16th Indian Ocean Rim Association Council of Ministers Meeting.

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