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Australian, Indonesian Leaders Discuss Human Trafficking

The leaders of Indonesia and Australia have discussed plans to fight people smuggling and say the two nations will continue to cooperate in fighting the problem. The discussion came during Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's visit to Australia.

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday told the Australian federal Parliament that his country will toughen laws against people smuggling.

Thousands of people, primarily from South Asia, have tried to sneak into Australia over the past several years, many of them paying people smugglers to take them by boat from Indonesia. Both countries have been working to combat the problem.

Mr. Yudhoyono, on a state visit to Australia, stressed the increasing close ties between the two countries in his speech to Parliament. The relationship, which was tense for decades, has improved dramatically in the past eight years as the two have cooperated in fighting violent Islamic militants responsible for a number of bombings in Indonesia that were aimed at Westerners.

The president, who is the first Indonesian leader to address a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament, says that adversity brought the two countries closer together.

"Our intense and fruitful cooperation to bring the Bali bombers to justice and Australia's outpouring of sympathy, and rescue and relief effort in the wake of the tsunami tragedy of 2004 was the emotional turning point of our bilateral relations," he said.

Mr. Yudhoyono confirmed Tuesday that Indonesian police had killed one of masterminds of a bombing attack on tourist night spots on Bali in 2002. Many of the 202 people killed in the attack were Australians.

The news drew praise from Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"Our law enforcement agencies are working closely together on a daily basis to deal with the continuing threat of terrorism, and, Mr. President, today we congratulate the government of Indonesia in its further extraordinary success in fighting terrorism within its own country," he said.

The two governments have also engaged in talks about trade and climate change.